Get a head. A robot head

Robots, Catholicism and Disembodied Man Head

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The world of tech has been tablet crazy this week, but the world of Weird Tech has its mind on more interesting things, such as terrifying robot baby heads.

It's Robot Baby Head!

Here's one for the 'Things We'll Have Terrible Nightmares About For Weeks On End' file: Robot Baby Head! As CNet reports, "Japanese engineers have created yet another robot baby, because, you know, you can't have enough of a good thing."

The head in question is called Affetto, and it's designed to mimic human facial expressions and movement and to "stimulate attachment in a caregiver". Presumably "giving tech writers the screaming heebie-jeebies" wasn't part of the original spec.

ROBOT BABY: A classic case of the Uncanny Valley in action: it's so realistic it's creepy

If you're feeling brave, watch the video after the embedded one: it shows you what Affetto looks like after he's been skinned.

It's Disembodied Man Head!

The world of tech has a new superhero: Disembodied Man Head! The poorly lit face of Google 'Rapid Evaluator' Johnny Chung Lee appears on a laptop, whizzing around your kitchen to fight any villains it encounters before its battery runs out. And you thought The Dark Knight was awesome.

Okay, not really. Lee wanted to create a telepresence video-chat robot "that I could use to drive around the house remotely". The two main components are a $250 iRobot Create and a $250 netbook; Lee wrote the software and has published it on his blog.

GET A HEAD: We can't make up our minds whether this is awesome or just silly. Both? Yes, both

How d'you like them apples?

If you've ever wished technology would free you from the misery of scanning apples in the supermarket, we've got good news for you: Toshiba is working on technology that can identify pretty much any kind of fruit, cutting out those all-important milliseconds of input before the till starts shouting "UNRECOGNISED ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA!" at the top of its stupid metallic voice.

Weird tech
APPLE TOO: We can't wait for technology to end the misery of supermarket apple scanning (Image credit: Muffet - Calliope on Flickr)

The system uses a webcam, image recognition and machine-learning software to identify fruit. In our supermarket, they just put stickers on them. Did you think of that, Toshiba? Eh? EH?

Confessing? There's no app for that

There was much excitement this week over Confession: A Roman Catholic App. "Confession? There's an app for that", The Guardian chortled, explaining that "Catholics can unburden themselves on their iPhones or iPads instead of in church".

Weird tech

BLESS YOU: The Confession app can't absolve your sins, but it can give your morality an MOT

The Vatican disagrees: according to Father Federico Lombardi, "One cannot speak in any way of confessing via iPhone... this cannot be substituted by any IT application." Instead, the app provides "a personalised examination of conscience". Yours for $1.99.

Robots get their own internet

We've been telling the world about the rise of the robots for ages, but nobody's heeded our warnings – and now, they've only gone and built SKYNET.

It's not called SKYNET, because the robots are too devious for that. They've called it RoboEarth to make it sound less scary, but it's pretty much the same thing: a World Wide Web designed for robots, not people, to use. As I-Programmer explains, "If a robot learns how to complete a task, it can share this knowledge with other robots".

We're not the only ones making the SKYNET connection: I-Programmer's Mike James is too. "[It] might be a worry for the future, but at the moment RoboEarth is just a knowledge base and it doesn't have any central intelligence, artificial or otherwise." Mike! Mike! That's what the robots want us to think!

weird tech

SORTA SKYNET: We're pretty sure robots didn't talk to filing cabinets in the Terminator movies

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