The robot with the face only a roboticist could love

The robot with the face only a roboticist could love

Telenoid is a genderless, limbless android that was birthed into the world by Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro a couple of years ago. He (or she) looks uncannily like a talking, moving Caspar the friendly ghost, but with a far more unnervingly human face. His truncated limbs wiggle and gesture as he sits on his custom-made stand or else is rocked in your arms. There’s something here that’s reminiscent of the birth defect Phocomelia, which was caused by pregnant women taking thalidomide.

Telenoid has soft and pleasantly textured skin and a child-like body. He was originally created as a Skype tool, to give an extra tactile, huggable dimension to a VoIP call. This means family and friends separated by vast distances can interact with each other by using him as a tactile robotic proxy for virtual hugs.

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Right now Telenoid (the huggy nightmarish Caspar the friendly ghost) is appearing at a new exhibition at the Tokyo Science Museum, along with a child-like robot called Kodomoroid who announces world news, and Otonaroid, an adult female robot that functions as a museum guide.

The jury is out about whether or not it would be terrifying to hug, handle and converse with this thing. I wonder if it will haunt my dreams tonight?

Avante garde and magical artist Bjork anticipated this happening in 1998, in this video clip for All is Full of Love, the singing robotic version of Bjork is remarkably similar to Telenoid.

Read more about sex robots and how they alter the way we relate to man and machine here.

Would you hug or touch it?



Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

5 thoughts on “The robot with the face only a roboticist could love

  1. This is all getting a bit spooky (no pun intended). It’s a bit unnerving to see humanoid robots with “realistic” human features. Ten years ago I thought I’d be excited about this…now it kind of creeps me out.

    Blurring the lines between man and machine raise important ethical and moral questions that have yet to be addressed.

    There are two Japanese animated films that explore this subject in a rather unique way. “Ghost In The Shell” and “Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence” based on the graphic novels by Shirow Masamune. The movies differ from the books dramatically: successfully exploring the concept of what makes a human, human and a machine, a machine and if the two are combined…has a new life form been created? Does it have the same rights and validity as any other living being?

    In the area of robotics, tech is progressing faster than our ability (or willingness) to explore the very important moral and ethical questions we should be asking. At some point these incredible machines will be given the ability to think for themselves and to learn independent of their human “masters”. When that is achieved, can sentience be far behind?

    It occurs to me that the movie “Rise Of The Apes” released earlier this year deals with these same moral issues with apes instead of robots gaining the gift of sentient awareness and intelligence.

    Maybe this is a rare instance of the movie industry asking the “real life” questions our inventors and scientists should be asking.

    Food for thought…

    Very Best Regards,


    1. I need to watch Rise of the Apes then if it has these sort of deep philosophical underpinnings. Here I was thinking it was just a couple of guys in monkey suits with no real story line, how wrong I am. I will give it chance thanks for the heads up.

      This grey area between when machines have sentience is so topical and so important right now and yet it’s not really something that gets discussed very often. For example I found out about Watson the other day. He/She/It is far smarter than any human and can use logical reasoning and mimics humanoid thought patterns but with the superior power of a computer. So Watson is able to anticipate financial outcomes on the stockmarket, predict the best healthcare organisations for the most beneficial public health outcomes.
      It can learn as it goes and then it teaches humans. So this replacement of human by machine has already happened :/ holy crap.


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