REPORTER: The new NAO Next Gen robot is an automaton of many talents. It's creators at Aldebaran Robotics say it could be the personal assistant you've been waiting for. It can sing, dance, and take photographs. The robot's vocal-recognition programme, called Nuance, allows it to communicate in nine languages.
NAO ROBOT AND MAN TALKING: Equipped with two 920 pixel cameras, it uses complex algorithms to recognise images and faces. Aldebaran's head of communications Bastien Parent says NAO is designed to be a useful helper and companion.
BASTIEN PARENT: "It can be useful by giving people information, it can give you a weather forecast for example, it can tell you how long it will take you to go to work, it can tell you if your child got home okay. So why not have a robot you can control from your mobile phone or keep it at home while you are on holiday so you can make sure everything is okay."
REPORTER: Named after the Mandarin word for brain, NAO boasts an on-board computer, enabling the robot to follow orders. It recognises colours and voices and is controlled via an internet connection. Parent says NAO could help autistic children, who are said to demonstrate better verbal communication when in the same room as a robot.
BASTIEN PARENT: "Above all, lots of this is geared up to be used in people's spare time and it is meant to be what we call 'edutainment', which means it can teach something at home, something about history, or maths, or it could even be used as an aid for children to help with homework."
REPORTER: But the automatons aren't cheap, with models costing around 16,000 (US) dollars. Batteries will set you back a further 400 (US) dollars. Three years after its first model became commerically available, Aldebaran says it has sold 2,000 robots world-wide. And as the technology improves, the company believes it won't be long before robots like NAO will become less expensive and more accessible to households around the world. Jim Drury, Reuters.
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