Tokyobling's Blog

Singing Robot Beauty

Posted in CEATEC by tokyobling on October 13, 2009

Last week I was able to spend some time at CEATEC, a huge IT and electronics industry exhibition at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture next to Tokyo.

Several of the inventions and exhibitions from this event has already made headline news on several tech sites so I won’t go for the obvious “breaking news” handle on these things but instead try to give you another angle on them.

One of the coolest and most popular booths was the one run by Yamaha (The music soft- and hardware manufacturer). I was walking around, minding my own business when I suddenly hear the sweetest female singing one of my favorite songs of all time, Kyu Sakamoto’s “Miagete Goran, Yoru no hoshi o” (見上げてごらん夜の星を). Naturally I was drawn to the sound of the voice like a moth to flame, and the booth was packed with curious visitors in a matter of seconds. Inside was Miimu, a female robot designed by the AIST(The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, 産業技術総合研究所), singing with the voice of Yamaha’s new human voice synthetic singing software, Vocaloid. Absolutely amazing.

After the performance, the people at Yamaha and a representative of AIST (whom I think has more than a little resemblance to the robot itself) gave a short and interesting lecture on the technologies behind this collaboration.

How often do you get to indulge in three major loves at a single moment? Photography, the songs of Kyu Sakamoto and female robots? A perfect moment for me. And for once I can honestly say, it isn’t my camera taking blurry photos, that girl’s face is naturally blurred!

If you want to, you can listen to the robot’s song on this video here, and then I recommend you to go out and get more from the master singer Kyu Sakamoto himself, whom I consider to be one of the top three male singers of all time. No discussion. If you feel less than nostalgic you might want to check out the “duet” between Sakamoto and Ken Hirai where the younger (and still very much alive) singer Hirai does a performance with a recorded Sakamoto of the very same song. Fantastic.

Yamaha also showed a very nifty iPhone application that I will blog about later this week. Stay tuned!
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4 Responses

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  1. megafutzi said, on October 14, 2009 at 4:40 am

    Gentlemen, we can build it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first singing robot. Louder, cuter, creepier….

    very good pictures, but how was it, standing in front of a high-tech Big Mouth Billy Bass?

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on October 14, 2009 at 4:59 am

      Haha… unlike Billy Bass this one actually sounds nice! It was also plastic enough to avoid trapping me in the “uncanny valley”. If she had moved her arms or head it would have been another story though.

      Like

  2. michaelpanda said, on October 19, 2009 at 9:57 am

    One of my co-workers was working a booth at CEATEC and mentioned the robot. She seemed a little less impressed than I would have been, as her conclusion was that it was thoroughly キモイ 😛

    I wish I could have seen it for myself !…

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on October 20, 2009 at 5:29 am

      Hm, perhaps Japanese females are less interested in this robot than Japanese males? How peculiar!

      Like


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