Video: Japanese Silicone-Skinned Dental Patient-Bot Flinches and Gags Just Like a Real Person, Only Much Creepier

via YouTube

Here’s one more reason to dread going to the dentist — you could run into this super-creepy patient-bot. Showa Hanako 2, unveiled at a press conference in Japan Thursday, will be sold through a dental supply company in Japan.

The robot is designed to help dental students practice, so researchers at Showa University made it as realistic as possible. That means it chokes, coughs, sneezes, moves its tongue and even gets a sore jaw. The builders worked with Japan’s leading maker of “love dolls” for adults, Orient Industry, to make the skin, tongue and mouth.

The tongue and arms have two degrees of freedom, so the robot can mimic a patient who starts to fidget while a dentist tries to perform prophylaxis. The skin is made of silicone and the tongue and cheek linings are made of one piece, so it feels more real — no obvious rubber seams, and no way for water to leak through and harm the machinery.

Koutaro Maki, a professor at Showa University School of Dentistry, explains somewhat bashfully that Orient Industry “had the technology” to produce such realistic mouths.

In seriousness, he says students get a sense that they’re working on a real patient, with all the extra tension that comes with that responsibility.

“If you don’t try to make a robot’s face look realistic, it doesn’t have the same effect on users psychologically,” he explains to DigInfo TV.

Why yes, professor, that’s true. Check it out.

[via New Scientist]