|With the increasing advancements of artificial intelligence, the demand for humanoid and companion robots has also been on the rise / Photo by: Kittipong Jirasukhanont via 123RF|
With the increasing advancements of artificial intelligence, the demand for humanoid and companion robots has also been on the rise. MarketandMarkets, a research firm that offers market research reports and custom research services on 30000 high growth/threat opportunities, reported that the humanoid robot market is projected to grow to $3,962.5 million by 2023 from only $202.2 million in 2016. It is equivalent to a CAGR of 52.1% between 2017 and 2023.
The main drivers of the humanoid robot market include the increasing use of humanoids as educational robots, the increasing use of humanoids as educational robots, and growing demand from the retail industry for personal assistance. The advancements in AI are also causing rapid growth in the global interactive robots, with a CAGR of nearly 75% by 2021. At the same time, educational institutions are integrating programmable humanoid robots to help in creating unique and interactive classroom experiences.
Currently, humanoid robots are widely being used in inspection, maintenance and disaster response at power plants. This aims to relieve human workers of laborious and dangerous tasks. Similarly, these machines are ready to take over routine tasks for astronauts in space travel. Other applications of these robots include acting as a guide and interacting with customers in the role of receptionist, providing companionship for the elderly and sick, and potentially even being a host for the growth of human transplant organs.
Also, these humanoid robots work through certain features. For instance, some have sensors that aid them in sensing their environments. Some have cameras that enable them to see clearly. A study showed that they can be suitably designed to provide customers with an enhanced shopping experience. But the development of humanoid robots doesn’t stop there. Recently, tech giant Samsung officially introduced its “artificial human” project called Neon.
Introducing Samsung’s Neon Project
At the last Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES), the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, all eyes were on Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs' (STAR Labs) "artificial humans." The company described the technology as "a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence."
According to Tech Xplore, an online site that covers the latest engineering, electronics and technology advances, the new virtual humans were developed with new technologies such as neural networks and computational reality. These humanoid AI chatbots can communicate with people while displaying “emotions and intelligence.” They are designed with newly generated “expressions, dialogs, and emotion” but still are modeled after real humans.
The artificial humans can also be customized for different tasks. They can respond to queries “with latency of less than a few milliseconds.” StarLabs also stated that these chatbots are not created to be just visual skins for AI assistants. “In the near future, one will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON as a service representative, a financial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge. Over time, NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors; or they can simply be companions and friends,” the company said.
Since Neons are created like humans, they can form new memories and learn new skills. According to CNet, the world's leader in tech product reviews and news, they can help with "goal-oriented tasks or can be personalized to assist in tasks that require human touch." At the same time, they can act as financial advisers, teachers, healthcare providers, TV anchors, spokespeople, and more.
"Neons are more like us, an independent but virtual living being, who can show emotions and learn from experiences. Unlike AI assistants, Neons do not know it all, and they are not an interface to the internet to ask for weather updates or to play your favorite music,” the company added.
Also, Neons can act like real humans because they are powered by Core R3 or "reality, realtime and responsive." This explains why they are quick to respond and in a lifelike manner. Aside from that, Neons are also powered by a proprietary technology called Spectra, which is responsible for intelligence, learning, emotions, and memory.
|At the last Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES), the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, all eyes were on Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs' (STAR Labs) "artificial humans" / Photo by: tktktk via 123RF|
Issues Surrounding Neons
Not everyone is impressed by Neons. Ben Wood of the consultancy CCS Insight stated that he was "underwhelmed" after seeing the Neons. In a tweet, he described them as "videos of actors that can be manipulated to do certain actions. I must be missing something." Avi Greengart of the consultancy Techsponential stated that the humanoid AI chatbots are creepy.
Aside from them, Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, questioned Samsung for the potential abuse with this kind of invention. "It has major implications for many fields like customer service, help desk functions, entertainment, and of course, could also be used to 'fake' a human interacting with a live person for bad or illegal purposes,” he added.
Moreover, StarLabs debunked the misconception that Neons are a form of deepfake. According to the company, they are fundamentally different from deepfake or other facial reanimation techniques. This is because the company doesn’t manipulate any content and that no one will ever have access to the technology at its core.
Nonetheless, these humanoid AI chatbots are a great example of how technology keeps on advancing. The future once depicted in old movies and cartoons seems like it is finally here.