The talker of the town
Atsuo Takanishi and his Ph.D. student Kotaro Fukui at Waseda University in Tokyo thought they had come up with a simple solution to a complex problem. Want a robot to speak like a human? Why not just build it like a human, vocal cords and all? Unfortunately, though, that´s where the solution´s simplicity ends. In order to simulate the flexibility and resonance of the biological structures, the group had to painstakingly re-create the entire human vocal system in this, the sixth version of the Waseda Talker. They modeled the human tongue, vocal cords, lips, teeth, soft palate and lungs out of plastics and rubbery polymers to mimic the real thing. The result is uncannily clear, natural speech-assuming you speak Japanese.