The video: Watch your back, human DJs. Researchers at Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology have developed a dancing robot called Shimi that picks tunes from your smartphone, understands your unspoken commands, and reacts to the crowd to keep the dance floor bumping. (Watch a demo video below.) The robotic disc jockey, which was unveiled at Google's I/O conference in San Francisco on Thursday, moves to the beat, bobbing its little head and tapping its feet. The 1-foot-tall gadget, which will be sold starting in 2013 by startup robotic toy company Tovbot, also scans the room to make sure its speakers are pointed at the dancers. It even takes requests — clap a beat, and Shimi will scan the smartphone's library for a song that matches. "Shimi is designed to change the way that people enjoy and think about their music," the robot's creator, Gil Weinberg, says.
The reaction: It's about time engineers built a robot "with the intention to party," says Lee Rannals at RedOrbit. "A dancing robot that follows you around is pretty cool," says Elise Moreau at Slashgear, "but it looks like Shimi still has a bit of growing up to do." Call me when they've built apps that let you shake your head or wave your hand to get the bot to skip lousy songs. Well, "I'm not a huge fan of desktop toys that flap around," says Technabob. But there's something endearing about watching a little robotic DJ "get its groove on to your music." See for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
- The European Union was supposed to end nationalism. It gave it new life instead.
Subscribe to the Week