Teddy Bear Robotic Companions

A plush teddy bear sat on display at TechFest, a two-day Microsoft event that started today. Steven Bathiche, a research and development program manager, is looking to go beyond the bears you know.

What kind of features might you expect in a 21st century bear? How about face recognition (so it can tell it's owner)? And maybe built-in intercom and maybe a wireless Internet camera usable by parents at the office. Ultimately, the intent is to create an ambulatory "remote" that you can use to be two places at once.

(David and Teddy - from A.I.)

The friendly robotic companion bear has been done before. Moviegoers may recall Teddy, from Steven Spielberg's A.I., a movie of the near (and far) future. Spielberg's film (and Stanley Kubrick's project) all derive from Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, a Brian Aldiss short story written in 1969:

"Come down here, Teddy!"

She stood impassively, watching the little furry figure as it climbed down from step to step on its stubby limbs. When it reached the bottom, she picked it up and carried it into the living room. It lay unmoving in her arms, staring up at her. She could feel just the slightest vibration from its motor.
(Read more about Teddy)

An earlier reference can be found in Harry Harrison's chilling I Always Do What Teddy Says, written in 1965:

"Let me go... let me go!" the teddy bear said with a hopeless shrill.

"...This is only a machine." with a quick slash, he opened the fabric over the seam seal and touched it: the plastic-fur back gaped open like a mouth.

...There was a click and the toy went limp.

Read more about the Teddy Project here; thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/3/2005)

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