Robots invade Las Vegas consumer electronics show

Robots - from cute to functional - are on display at CES 2014. (Photo courtesy Steve Winter)

Steve Winter, special to wtop.com

LAS VEGAS – While fans of the Terminator movie franchise can breathe easy that Skynet is not as yet online, the 2014 Consumer Electronic Show clearly marks the “Rise of the Machines.”

The robots are not hunting down humans on a war-ravaged landscape, but are everywhere at the annual unveiling of the newest consumer technology.

Paro Robotics – an Illinois company – has taken animal assisted therapy into the 21st century with a full line of fuzzy, furry and cuddly therapy robots.

The company says the bots provide psychological, physiological and social well- being through physical interaction.

Imbedded tactile, light, temperature and posture sensors react to human touch, voice and emotion to provide relaxation, entertainment, even companionship to an owner, according to the company.

Vietnamese based robotics giant Tosy introduces a full line of interactive high- tech toys including the beat-detecting, rocking-the-dance-floor DiscoRobo.

DiscoRobo is programmed with 56 different dance moves, facial expressions and humor-infused artificial intelligence,

For a person not content with off-the-shelf androids, Rapiro from Japan allows users to create an automated companion that looks small, acts large and responds in compliance to highly-personalized programming.

The marketing industry will likely be captivated by the fuRo-D advertising Service Robot.

Already in use in South Korean malls, movie theaters and entertainment centers, fuRo-D delivers high-definition, venue-specific content through a 32-inch vertical touch-screen display while Kinect-based human detection and gesture recognition sensors allows for the product’s emotion-infused face avatar to interact directly with the user.

“Robots have come very far in the fields of medicine, manufacturing and even toys, but not so much yet in the area of entertainment,” says D.H. Kim, Director of Marketing for Future Robot. “Our product is starting to change that.”

The fuRo-D draws viewers and users with content – movie trailers, shopping specials, venue information and more – creating an environment that encourages patrons to linger longer to absorb the accompanying advertising message.

At a cost ranging from $30,000 to $60,000, don’t expect a full-scale fuRo-D robot invasion right away, but as the technology continues to grow and evolve, it’s possible the next phase of Terminator-inspired entertainment could take place in a movie theater lobby.

See the robots in action:

Editors Note: Longtime CES attendees Steve Winter and Kenny Fried will be contributing reports this week. In their day jobs, they are public relations professionals with Sage Communications. During CES they will not be reporting on any of their clients’ products or those of direct competitors.

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