ABOUT THE SPEAKER
David Hanson - Robotics designer
David Hanson merges robotics and art to design life-like, social robots that can mimic human expression and emotion.

Why you should listen

David Hanson is the founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics -- a company that aims to create robots as socially adept as any human being. Through his organization, he has seen the success of robotic facial hardware that establishes eye contact, recognizes faces and carries out natural spoken conversation. Hanson hopes these robotic faces prove useful to cognitive science and psychology, and to the entertainment industry.

A former Walt Disney Imagineer, this young entrepreneur and roboticist has been labelled a "genius" by both PC Magazine and WIRED, and has earned awards from NASA, NSF and Cooper Hewitt Design. If Hanson succeeds, he will create a socially intelligent robot that may even one day have a place in the human family.

More profile about the speaker
David Hanson | Speaker | TED.com
TED2009

David Hanson: Robots that "show emotion"

Filmed:
951,785 views

David Hanson's robot faces look and act like yours: They recognize and respond to emotion, and make expressions of their own. Here, an "emotional" live demo of the Einstein robot offers a peek at a future where robots truly mimic humans.
- Robotics designer
David Hanson merges robotics and art to design life-like, social robots that can mimic human expression and emotion. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:16
I'm Dr. David Hanson, and I build robots with character.
0
1000
3000
00:19
And by that, I mean
1
4000
2000
00:21
that I develop robots that are characters,
2
6000
2000
00:23
but also robots that will eventually
3
8000
3000
00:26
come to empathize with you.
4
11000
2000
00:28
So we're starting with a variety of technologies
5
13000
2000
00:30
that have converged into these conversational character robots
6
15000
4000
00:34
that can see faces, make eye contact with you,
7
19000
2000
00:36
make a full range of facial expressions, understand speech
8
21000
3000
00:39
and begin to model how you're feeling
9
24000
4000
00:43
and who you are, and build a relationship with you.
10
28000
3000
00:46
I developed a series of technologies
11
31000
2000
00:48
that allowed the robots to make more realistic facial expressions
12
33000
3000
00:51
than previously achieved, on lower power,
13
36000
2000
00:53
which enabled the walking biped robots, the first androids.
14
38000
4000
00:57
So, it's a full range of facial expressions
15
42000
2000
00:59
simulating all the major muscles in the human face,
16
44000
2000
01:01
running on very small batteries,
17
46000
2000
01:03
extremely lightweight.
18
48000
2000
01:05
The materials that allowed the battery-operated facial expressions
19
50000
3000
01:08
is a material that we call Frubber,
20
53000
2000
01:10
and it actually has three major innovations
21
55000
2000
01:12
in the material that allow this to happen.
22
57000
2000
01:14
One is hierarchical pores,
23
59000
2000
01:16
and the other is a macro-molecular nanoscale porosity in the material.
24
61000
4000
01:20
There he's starting to walk.
25
65000
3000
01:23
This is at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.
26
68000
3000
01:26
I built the head. They built the body.
27
71000
4000
01:30
So the goal here is to achieve sentience in machines,
28
75000
3000
01:33
and not just sentience, but empathy.
29
78000
4000
01:37
We're working with the Machine Perception Laboratory
30
82000
2000
01:39
at the U.C. San Diego.
31
84000
2000
01:41
They have this really remarkable facial expression technology
32
86000
3000
01:44
that recognizes facial expressions,
33
89000
2000
01:46
what facial expressions you're making.
34
91000
2000
01:48
It also recognizes where you're looking, your head orientation.
35
93000
3000
01:51
We're emulating all the major facial expressions,
36
96000
2000
01:53
and then controlling it with the software
37
98000
2000
01:55
that we call the Character Engine.
38
100000
2000
01:57
And here is a little bit of the technology that's involved in that.
39
102000
4000
02:01
In fact, right now -- plug it from here, and then plug it in here,
40
106000
8000
02:09
and now let's see if it gets my facial expressions.
41
114000
3000
02:12
Okay. So I'm smiling.
42
117000
5000
02:17
(Laughter)
43
122000
2000
02:19
Now I'm frowning.
44
124000
2000
02:21
And this is really heavily backlit.
45
126000
4000
02:25
Okay, here we go.
46
130000
2000
02:27
Oh, it's so sad.
47
132000
2000
02:29
Okay, so you smile, frowning.
48
134000
3000
02:32
So his perception of your emotional states
49
137000
2000
02:34
is very important for machines to effectively become empathetic.
50
139000
4000
02:38
Machines are becoming devastatingly capable
51
143000
3000
02:41
of things like killing. Right?
52
146000
4000
02:45
Those machines have no place for empathy.
53
150000
2000
02:47
And there is billions of dollars being spent on that.
54
152000
2000
02:49
Character robotics could plant the seed
55
154000
2000
02:51
for robots that actually have empathy.
56
156000
2000
02:53
So, if they achieve human level intelligence
57
158000
2000
02:55
or, quite possibly, greater than human levels of intelligence,
58
160000
4000
02:59
this could be the seeds of hope for our future.
59
164000
3000
03:02
So, we've made 20 robots in the last eight years, during the course of getting my Ph.D.
60
167000
4000
03:06
And then I started Hanson Robotics,
61
171000
2000
03:08
which has been developing these things for mass manufacturing.
62
173000
4000
03:12
This is one of our robots
63
177000
2000
03:14
that we showed at Wired NextFest a couple of years ago.
64
179000
2000
03:16
And it sees multiple people in a scene,
65
181000
3000
03:19
remembers where individual people are,
66
184000
2000
03:21
and looks from person to person, remembering people.
67
186000
4000
03:25
So, we're involving two things.
68
190000
2000
03:27
One, the perception of people,
69
192000
2000
03:29
and two, the natural interface,
70
194000
4000
03:33
the natural form of the interface,
71
198000
2000
03:35
so that it's more intuitive for you to interact with the robot.
72
200000
3000
03:38
You start to believe that it's alive and aware.
73
203000
3000
03:41
So one of my favorite projects was bringing all this stuff together
74
206000
3000
03:44
in an artistic display of an android portrait
75
209000
3000
03:47
of science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick,
76
212000
2000
03:49
who wrote great works like, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
77
214000
3000
03:52
which was the basis of the movie "Bladerunner."
78
217000
2000
03:54
In these stories, robots often think
79
219000
3000
03:57
that they're human, and they sort of come to life.
80
222000
2000
03:59
So we put his writings, letters,
81
224000
3000
04:02
his interviews, correspondences,
82
227000
3000
04:05
into a huge database of thousands of pages,
83
230000
2000
04:07
and then used some natural language processing
84
232000
2000
04:09
to allow you to actually have a conversation with him.
85
234000
2000
04:11
And it was kind of spooky, because he would say these things
86
236000
2000
04:13
that just sounded like they really understood you.
87
238000
3000
04:16
And this is one of the most exciting projects that we're developing,
88
241000
3000
04:19
which is a little character that's a spokesbot
89
244000
3000
04:22
for friendly artificial intelligence, friendly machine intelligence.
90
247000
3000
04:25
And we're getting this mass-manufactured.
91
250000
2000
04:27
We specked it out to actually be doable
92
252000
3000
04:30
with a very, very low-cost bill of materials,
93
255000
3000
04:33
so that it can become a childhood companion for kids.
94
258000
4000
04:37
Interfacing with the Internet, it gets smarter over the years.
95
262000
3000
04:40
As artificial intelligence evolves, so does his intelligence.
96
265000
3000
04:43
Chris Anderson: Thank you so much. That's incredible.
97
268000
2000
04:45
(Applause)
98
270000
7000

▲Back to top

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
David Hanson - Robotics designer
David Hanson merges robotics and art to design life-like, social robots that can mimic human expression and emotion.

Why you should listen

David Hanson is the founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics -- a company that aims to create robots as socially adept as any human being. Through his organization, he has seen the success of robotic facial hardware that establishes eye contact, recognizes faces and carries out natural spoken conversation. Hanson hopes these robotic faces prove useful to cognitive science and psychology, and to the entertainment industry.

A former Walt Disney Imagineer, this young entrepreneur and roboticist has been labelled a "genius" by both PC Magazine and WIRED, and has earned awards from NASA, NSF and Cooper Hewitt Design. If Hanson succeeds, he will create a socially intelligent robot that may even one day have a place in the human family.

More profile about the speaker
David Hanson | Speaker | TED.com