When Yangyang, a tall, brown-haired woman clad in a chic red coat, took to the stage at this year’s Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing, she was met with critical acclaim. But, despite how she might look, Yangyang is no human. “She” is, in fact, an “it”: an eerily human-like android robot, and the latest creation of Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro.
By Emiko Jozuka|MOTHERBOARD
Ishiguro, who is the director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University, is well-known for his android series, which look like perfect replicas of their human counterparts.
Over Skype, Ishiguro told me that Yangyang is a replica of researcher Yang Song, the wife of the president of tech company Shanghai Shenqing Industry and professor of Sanlian College in China. Ishiguro collaborated with the company to make Yangyang as a present for the company’s research and development department. The android, which can blink, shake hands, and fidget like a human, has so far been warmly received in China, according to Ishiguro. “Everyone said that our presentation was the best,” he told me with a hint of glee in his voice.
With Yangyang, Ishiguro has put his foot squarely in the Chinese market. But for Song’s company, the android is not just a pretty face. The robot, Ishiguro told me, will have some serious applications. Shenqing Industry are planning on using Yangyang in an educational way to teach young kids about robotics. She stands for all things non-profit. “This robot will be a symbol of that,” stated Ishiguro. Of course, he added that the robot could also be used in commercial settings, as “greeter” in department stores or museums.