Kismet was a study by Dr. Rodney Brooks and his students of human interaction with robots at MIT. It actually mimics (or attempts to mimic) human facial expression, and uses a set of unstructured voice like sounds to sound like it is communicating. Because it has a mouth, nose, ears and eyes - people feel like it is a real presence in the room with them.

Using an vision system previously seen in Cog, kismet has two sets of camera "eyes", one which is less focussed and has a wider angle, and another foveal camera which can give a more directed, focussed and detailed image of something. Because of the way the two camera move (again derived from Cog) - a human is able to make eye contact with the robot, or follow its line fo sight - and understand what it is "seeing". Kismet will become interested in bright, moving objects, but will primarily look for what appears to be skin - because of the techniques used - in a way that transcends skin pigment. If you interact with it, it will interact back. It you look towards somethign interesting - Kismet will follow your line of sight and become interested too. If ignored - it will sulk, pine and readily attend to the next skin coloured object.

This is a very interested robot indeed - and it has left quite a few people feeling confused because of how closely its expression mimics ours. The only time it seems lifeless is when either switched off, or going through calibration routines during start up - otherwise it is very animated and life like in its reactions.

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