Today our Girlequins are mostly hard, don't move, react or pass off close up as human. In the future we hope to make giant strides forward. The future will offer androids that are humanoid, difficult to tell from the real person, warm and soft to the touch, reacting to people, and fill many roles in society.
With an aging population and people wanting more support there is a need for assistance, beyond the current UK plan of just bringing in more immigrants to fill these roles. The Japanese governments have recognised a problem coming and chosen the robotic humanoid route to solve it. This has lead to very many developments in recent years, with robots that can walk and run, can follow faces, react to stimulants and provide a level of help to people, although not at the moment all in the same android. In addition most that move about in an upright humanoid posture are very robot like in appearance. Others that are more like multi wheeled remote controlled units have been given a human appearance. While we still have a long way to go, if 10 years ago you could have seen some that is available today it could have been mistaken for something from science fiction.
Soft form mannequins that can be warmed up, are produced, some with a metal skeleton, and some working parts, mostly sold as high priced sex toys. Some reactive and computer controlled mannequins have also been produced that can be used in medical training. In each case having a very humanoid appearance. In the movie world realistic looking soft form mannequins are used for victims, and some other scenes, non human android shells to go over people are already used to create different items from dinosaurs to aliens.
We are likely to see a large number of small steps, often with different products or companies leading the way, better balance, better power use and more human looking. Beyond this we need to add far more processing power, the ability to communicate perhaps, to react to facial expression and voices, to copy, to echo actions, to predict needs and much more.
To some it will be a carer, to some a companion, to some a servant, and perhaps some time away a friend. Not all requirements are complex, a steady balance and arm to rest on could help an elderly person retain their independence, and patrolling units able to call for assistance put back the police patrols that have all but disappeared. Medical aid androids, could come to peoples assistance very fast, and I am sure the military have a few ideas as to applications that they would find useful.
2011/12 - moving forward
At first sight, with the Japanese government and major motoring manufacturers involved in android developments, the scope for one small business with limited funds may appear limited, but our MD has a history of major innovations, he was one of the first people to develop microcomputers, building parts himself in his garage and developing very early operating systems and programs, produced many software first's, from crop planning to genetic breading to racing systems, to business applications. Producing an interactive language used in automated training applications well before HTML, developing one of the first communication programs that allowed a computer to carry on a reactive conversation, developing early voice recognition, and far more. Competing with world giants he has many times lead for a period in different industries. So can he do it again, will he pull together information, work out how to overcome difficulties and introduce the first android that could be realistically mistaken for a human. If he didn't feel there was a chance, he would not be involved, but realistically when you are working in the area of development, leading the pack, how much progress and how fast, is not dependent on just funds, but understanding the problems that have to be overcome, breaking these down into steps and cracking each step. We don't expect to solve all the problems ourselves, but to co-operate with others around the world sharing skills, knowledge and technology.
2013 - work in hand on our new collection
The concept we are employing is different to others, in that we are working on creating Girlequins on a skeleton and multiple opposing muscle basis very similar to the human body. Different models having a sub set of abilities, and over time this developing to a fully responsive and interactive human like capabilities.
As well as moving, the new collections will be based on measurements and studies of real live human models. if you are interested in modelling see our model section. The range and limit of movements, as well as the means of achieving things like balance, recovery from problems encountered and reactions to stimuli, will be built directly on real people data. Each Girlequin will have inside her a full network of miniature computers each controlling a function or providing reactions to sensors/stimuli and feeding requests to others in the network.
So our aim is not a robot, but a collection of useful interactive androids. Its not a question in our minds, as to if this can be done, just a question of how long it will take, and with sales of original Girlequins now suspended, maximum available efforts put into it, this will be achieved quicker.
So no programme announced yet of when you will see the first Girlequin pass you in the supermarket, but there again if you noticed them we would feel that we had not succeeded.