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PArtner-type PErsonal RObot


TRIBE Member
I want a papero!

Found in translation

NEC's Papero

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The Universal Translator, the tool that made Captain Kirk's special brand of "diplomacy" possible, is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a little robot named Papero. Among the myriad skills of Papero (for "PArtner-type PErsonal RObot") is the ability to understand English and Japanese, and speak back in the converse. However, it's not the robot itself that scientists in charge of Narita's "e-Airport" project are after; they just want its brain.

Papero is equipped with a host of endearing qualities including the ability to remind its owner about appointments, play games, even dance, but the speech-to-speech technology is what scientists believe set this robot apart. NEC, who is spearheading Japan's e-Airport pilot project, hopes the technology will help make Narita airport, which serves Tokyo and the surrounding area, the most hi-tech in the world.

Papero's speech-to-speech technology allows it to hear speech through a set of four microphones, which it filters out from background noise and chatter. It knows 50,000 Japanese and 25,000 English words, and is equipped to handle various accents, dialects and slang. Papero helped facilitate communication for a number of travellers during its short stint at Narita, now scientists are anxious to apply the Babel fish technology to smaller PDAs, allowing visitors to the airport to communicate with locals, albeit through a less cute intermediary.

The PDA, called eNavi, will also be outfitted with a mobile phone, airport guides and wireless net access. Advocates say its ability to "speak" with human-like intonation and inflection only increases the user-friendliness of the device.

As we see it, the only drawback to the device is that it makes the likelihood of a Lost in Translation sequel look a lot more doubtful.