SEER: Simulative Emotional Expression Robot

Publication Type
Technologies referenced
Description (in English)

“SEER” is a humanoid robotic head developed as an artistic work by Takayuki Todo. It explores the significance of gaze and facial expression in the sphere of human-machine research.

Takayuki Todo is interested in how people establish an emotional relationship with humanoid robots. As the discipline of robotics has shown for years, a realistic similarity to the human form alone is not able to break down the distance between a human and a machine. The term “uncanny valley” refers to this very narrow but significant gap between what a person perceives as real and credible, and what they perceive as artificial and uncanny.
For Todo, the central element that offers a way out of the “uncanny valley” is the gaze. For years he has been working on anthropomorphic figures that are made of entirely synthetic materials yet acquire a liveliness through their gaze. Created in 2018, Todo calls his “Simulative Emotional Expression Robot” “SEER” - evocative of a seeing being. Using a 3D printer, the artist produced a head made of several parts that was designed on a reduced scale and without any gender or ethnicity-specific features.
The robot has a camera that perceives the human counterpart, focuses, and then reciprocates their gaze. “SEER” not only interacts with the viewer through eye contact, but also by nodding its head and moving its eyes, eyelids and eyebrows. The intensity of the movements increases as the person approaches “SEER”. The figure has a childlike physiognomy, its facial expressions and movements are comforting in their tenderness. “SEER” seems to have a life of its own in which it encounters us. It reflects the facial expressions of its counterpart, it generates movements as reproductions of existing ones, but does not produce any autonomous gestures.

(Script by Franziska Nori (the director of Frankfurter Kunstverein))

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