Humans are the worst — there's no denying it. But isolating yourself from the rest of humanity doesn't exactly come with the best track record either. Now, though, you can get the best of both worlds thanks to SociBot-Mini, a depth-sensing, mood-reading, friends'-identity-stealing disembodied robot torso.
Created by Engineered Arts in the UK, SociBot-Mini may not be able to run around doing your bidding, but it can help fill all your emotional needs thanks to its head-mounted RGB camera, infrared depth sensor, touchscreen interface, and two-way audio system. Its depth-sensing camera works in very much the same way as Microsoft's Kinect. Able to track up to 12 people's faces at once, the robot can analyse your mood by capturing facial expressions and interact accordingly.
The creepiest part, though, is SociBot-Mini's backlit, three-dimensional face screen, which can either project one of its proprietary faces or a friend's based on a headshot. The idea here is allowing telepresence calls to feel more realistic, but the implications for desperate unrequited lovers everywhere is hard to ignore.
The SociBot-Mini is already on sale, marketed as a sort of futuristic information terminal. But now, the company's gearing up its imminent Kickstarter campaign for a cheaper, slimmed-down version strictly intended for home use. So if you've long dreamed of having a best friend who doesn't mind being an unpaid personal assistant/emotional slave (along with not having all those other messy human bits), your lucky day could be just around the corner. [New Scientist]