Special Issue on Toward Establishment of Entertainment and Amusement Machine Technology
Shigeki Sugano*and Takanori Shibata**
* Professor, Waseda University
** Senior Research Scientist, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Technology
Advances in society have enriched lifestyles, making them more comfortable and increasing spare time. People spend more time and money on entertainment ‘and amusement, purchasing more than basic necessities and spending time at recreational facilities. Devices used in entertainment and amusement frequently interact with people, making it important to design them emphasizing subjective evaluations by people who interact with them rather than objective evaluations such as speed and accuracy. This makes technologies on entertainment and amusement interdisciplinary, going beyond the scope of conventional engineering with consideration of human sensitivities. Sugeno describes this interdisciplinary technology and discusses its possibilities in “Engineering and Amusement.” This special edition presents information on Japanese mechatronics technologies for entertainment and amusement to overseas people. Included are papers on scholarly- and technologically-de novo research and developments and technologies already put into practical use as commercially available products. Devices for entertainment and amusement must interact with people in different ways, and as such, they take a wide variety of shapes and have a broad array of controllers to suitably accommodate different human needs. It is therefore of critical importance to give special consideration to human sensitivity, which makes this area of engineering difficult to standardize and generalize. It is, however, becoming increasingly important in different fields of engineering to take interaction between machinery and people into consideration. This special edition provides perspectives and technologies that hold clues for the field of entertainment and amusement and also for many other areas of research and development. Kuroki et al. discuss the structure and the control architecture of SDR-X, a humanoid robot developed for entertainment, and detail the dancing performance of this robot in “A Small Biped Entertainment Robot.” Shibata et al. statistically analyze the findings of subjective evaluation of the Mental Commit Robot Paro, a robot shaped like a baby seal developed to provide positive psychological effects such as pleasure and comfort to people through interaction, and considers the results in “Subjective Evaluation of Seal Robot Paro.” Mitsui et al. tell about the results of physiological experiments and subjective evaluations of psychophysiological effects of interactions with a seal-shaped Mental Commit Robot on people in “Psycho-physiological Effects by Interaction with Mental Commit Robot.” Nakata et al., in “Analysis of Impression of Robot Bodily Expression,” suggest a method for setting up physical characteristics of movements based on the theory of Laban in Choreologia as a way of quantitatively evaluating impressions of movement of a robot a person gets during interaction, and discuss the method’s effectiveness. Tanaka et al., in “Principle of Stable Running of A Unicycle Robot,” describe the research and development of a unicycle robot modeled after the movement of a person riding a unicycle. They analyzed the mechanism of complex and skillful movements to have the robot make comical human-like movements. These findings could be applied to controlling robots in general. Kobayashi et al., in “A New Concept of the Robotic Technology Applicable to Human Physical Support,” describe a muscle suit to support human muscles with the help of air tube actuators. Because this suit enables people to move about naturally, its technology is applicable as component technology for new types of entertainment. Yamamoto et al., in “Conversation with a Communication Robot Named Wonder – for the Mental Support of the Elderly Living Alone,” discuss results of a validation experiment for a robot developed with several objectives, including the ‘reduction of the psychological burden on elderly people who live alone and applications as a pet and/or a speech partner and as an interface for outside communication through CATV to make their daily life safer. Fuj ita, in “Personal Robot PaPeRo,” tells about the objective of the development, design, function, and structure of the autonomous robot PaPeRo developed for communication with people in private households and reports the results of an experiment in which 12 families lived together with the robot for about 2 months. Miyake et al., in “Interactive Simulation Ride System,” present a simulation system with a high degree of virtual sense capability being achieved by a 3-6 mensional audiovisual perception data display using virtual reality technology and a ride system with 4 degrees of freedom. This system is already being used in amusement facilities and museums. Haga, in “WonderBorg and BN-l,” describes the concept of development, system structure, and control of an insect-shaped robot “WonderBorg” and a cat-like robot BN-I developed with the objective of offering interactive entertainment to people through assembling and programming robot. Nagasu, in “Dream Force O1,” tells about the concept of development and the structure of Dream Force 01, a bipedal locomotion robot that can be operated by the user for pleasure with the help of a robot controller. Omshi, in “POO-CHI,” discusses the design and the function of a dog-shaped robot toy POO-CHI that has become a hot seller all over the world. We thanks Japan Toy Culture Foundation on supports for preparation of developments reports.
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