Japan has taken its advanced technology to a new level with the use of an android that can reproduce facial expressions to teach Japanese in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.
Geminoid F, a robot based on a real female model, debuted at a Japanese language class attended by 40 Vietnamese students last week to see if androids can help with foreign language learning, The Japan News reported.
Researchers led by Osaka University Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro created the robot in 2010, using air pressure to move 12 areas of her face, including the mouth, eyes, and cheeks, to make human-like expressions.
People feel more comfortable and less nervous when they study a foreign language with an android instead of a human stranger, Prof. Ishiguro explained.
Geminoid F can be controlled over the Internet so classes can be conducted from Japan, or any other location, in the absence of on-site teachers.
During the class in Hanoi, a Japanese instructor operated the android from a different room, while her voice and facial expressions were analyzed by a computer and transmitted to the robot for reproduction.
A variety of conversational Japanese was taught this way, with the students behaving as if they were communicating with a human.
The class was conducted by the Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam, a local branch of the Japan Foundation tasked with promoting the Japanese language in the Southeast Asian nation.