Japanese transform everyday items into robots
Japanese engineers want to improve the relationship between humans and robots. Their hope is that by teaching robots to pick up on social cues, they can be assistants rather than tools. The sociable robots are being developed by the Interaction and Communications Design Lab at the Toyohashi University of Technology.

“The interactive procedures are initiated using the perspective of cognitive science, social learning mechanism, and physical attributes combined with field of social robotic approaches,” states the ICD Lab website. “The concepts are finally validated in child-centric environments.”

Current projects:

Sociable trash box
Infrared sensors and USB camera track people and garbage, then it bows and asks you to properly dispose of waste.

Sociable PC
Designed to look, feel and move like tofu, which shakes when touched.

Sociable dining table
Items on the table move in response to sound that is picked up from microphones under the table.