In "Robo-receptionist clocks on," Nature tells us the story of Inkha, a robot which greets guests of King's College London (KCL) and adds artificial intelligence to the front desk.
Inkha -- short for 'interactive neurotic King's head assembly' -- will dole out directions and events information. Like receptionists across the globe, she will also comment on the weather and fashion faux pas.
The gregarious robot was built by master's students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She is only a head and shoulders on a pyramidal plinth, but her eyes, mouth, head and neck move in response to interactions. Hidden cameras and infrared sensors detect movement and colour around her.
Below is a picture of Inkha taken during the U.K. National Science Week in March 2003 (Credit: KCL).
This page contains more images of Inkha, including this close-up (Credit: KCL).
According to this page at KCL, Inkha was funded with a £8,400 grant and has become a celebrity.
Inkha has become something of a celebrity, appearing on 'Blue Peter', 'Richard and Judy', the 'Tomorrow's World' Roadshow and in the Daily Mirror. During National Science Week in March she graced the Strand Reception desk, providing entertainment for school children, the general public and King's students and staff, and she'll be back again for the same week next year.
In fact, Inkha, which was honored by this press release, "Inkha the robot joins Strand reception staff," is so famous that it has its own website, http://www.inkha.net/.
Here is another quote of Nature about Inkha's habits.
Inkha should keep everyone on their toes too: if she doesn't like your clothes, she will ask whether you got dressed in the dark. And if she gets weary, she asks for a cup of tea, says her co-creator and independent animatronics consultant Matthew Walker.
Pretty nice robot, isn't?
Sources: Helen R. Pilcher, Nature, November 25, 2003; King's College London
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