Nadine Is a Robot That Remembers Your Past Conversations, Unlike Your Real Friends
In the future, all of your friends will be dead-eyed, monotone humanoids with questionable haircuts. On the plus side, they'll actually remember when you tell them about your dubious sexual partners and paralyzing fear of the future, unlike your real-life friends, who just toss back another glass of wine and mumble, "Mm-hmm."
The first incarnation of your future robo-BFF was unveiled on Tuesday at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. Named "Nadine," the humanoid was developed by professor Nadia Thalmannis, who also directs the university's Institute for Media Innovation. Nadine was created to look like Thalmannis.
"She looks almost like a human being, with soft skin and flowing brunette hair," reads a press release. "She smiles when greeting you, looks at you in the eye when talking, and can also shake hands with you. And she is a humanoid."
Welcome to the Uncanny Valley, everyone.
According to the university, Nadine is far more humanlike than other robots; she possesses her very own personality and can also express different emotions and moods. She can also reportedly remember people she's already met and the conversations she had with them.
She's compelled by the same technology found in robotic companions like Siri and Cortana. The difference, of course, is that unlike Siri and Cortana — mere voices with no physical incarnation — Nadine is very much corporeal, and thus a trillion times more off-putting.
Like a mother blinded by unconditional love for her child, however, Thalmann appears completely unperturbed by Nadine's humanlike-except-not-at-all qualities. She says Nadine can someday find use as both a personal assistant and a "social companion" for kids and the elderly (when they're sick of their robotic cats, of course).
Not content to explode our sense of what it means to be human with a single robot, the team at NTU also introduced Edgar. Edgar has two working arms and a face that doubles as a projection screen, which means you can put your own face on him.
In other words, we are all that man in the background:
Designed to mimic the person using it, Edgar can be controlled remotely. It also displays facial expressions, acts out upper body movements and can speak if given a script. According to NTU, "Such social robots are ideal for use at public venues, such as tourist attractions and shopping centers, as they can offer practical information to visitors."
If you say so:
Somewhere in a dark closet at Nanyang Technological University, Edgar and Nadine may be busy plotting humankind's eventual destruction. At least we had some good moments.