Geminoid F, an android created after a real female model, taught Japanese classes in Hanoi this week. The robot was developed in 2010 by a group of researchers led by Osaka University Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro.
12 places on the android’s face, including the mouth, eyes and cheeks, are moved by using air pressure, in order to create facial expression similar to the ones humans have.
“People are less nervous around androids at first than when they meet strangers. They think of the androids intimately,” Ishiguro said. “They are easy to talk to, thus suited for language learning.”
Humans can control Geminoid F over the internet, so classes can be conducted from Japan or any other locations outside Hanoi.
In Hanoi, the android was controlled by a Japanese teacher located in another room. The real teacher’s facial expressions and mouth movements were analyzed by a computer and transmitted to the robot to reproduce them.
About 40 students learned a variety of Japanese conversational phrases through the android. It looked as if the students were talking directly to Geminoid F, the local press comments.
The event was hosted by the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam, a local branch of the Japan Foundation aimed at promoting learning Japanese in Vietnam.