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14.5.12

Uncanny valley: From the outside, the buttocks look realistic - but get under the skin and you can see the 'gluuteus maximum actuator'



There is no doubting the life-like technology on display here is superb - if you can get over the sheer creepiness.  For this disembodied pair of buttocks displays some of the most realistic demonstrations of human emotions yet - all portrayed through the clenching or relaxing of a backside cheek.  There are some various uses for the technology, such as training massage therapists and proctologists without putting humans through any discomfort. 
Stimulation: The buttocks respond to gestures such as stroking or slappingHowever inventor Nobuhiro Takahashim from the University of Electro-Communications in Japan, is more interested in the artistic and emotional side to his derrière, named Shiri, which 'represents emotions with visual and tactual transformation of the muscles'.   He says his aim is the 'approach the creation of sensitive and subtle expression by a humanoid robot using organic constructs'  The inventor certainly has form for pairing robots with emotion - he previously invented a machine for 'communications within the mouth', which could allow long-distance couples to passionately kiss over the internet.  He has also created a 'huggable robot' - which mirrors your own hugging motions, so that you can use the robot to give yourself a pat on the back.  

The 'robo-bot', or 'ro-butt' contains a skin of silicone over a foam structure, under which lies 'a gluteus maximum actuator', or artificial muscles that be inflated or deflated to simulate different 'moods'.  Also tucked away inside is an internal microphone, which detects when the cheeks are being touched, rubbed or slapped ad responds accordingly.  Among its many moves are twitching, clenching or protruding, and the results in the video are indeed realistic.  Despite the inherent creepiness of seeing disjointed buttocks responding to human touches, the projects shows just how close we are getting to realistic human-shaped robots, long a staple of science fiction.

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