Robotics revolution

In Korean pre­schools, toddlers are playing with a friendly, somewhat chubby teacher. The teacher instructs, sings with them and takes pictures of the kids’ pursuits.

But this is not your typical teacher. “700 Korean pre­schools now use our iRobiQ robot,” boasts Kyung Chul Shin, CEO of Korean robot-maker Yujin Robot. “Of course, human teachers have better interactions with children than do robots, but robots help the teachers do more. In rural areas with a shortage of teachers, this is particularly important.”

Chinese and Taiwanese preschools also use iRobiQ, and a French company has licensed it, too. Soon Yujin Robot will launch a model that will teach children English. “In the future, our robots will have emotions, so the children will feel they’re communicating with it,” says Shin.

At home, iRobiQ doubles as a butler. He has plenty of company: More than four million robots now vacuum and scrub floors in people’s homes. “We’ve had tremendous progress in robot technology,” says Henrik Christensen, a professor of robotics at Georgia Tech.

“Today robots are able to complete a wide range of everyday tasks. They can pick up things from the floor, bring your dishes away and bring you your medicine,” Christensen adds. His team has designed several such robots, including one that makes and serves coffee. Japanese researchers recently unveiled a hair-washing robot.

As the world’s population ages, the need for home assistance — and therefore robots — is poised for a boom. “Dogs and trained monkeys can help the elderly, but they’re expensive and don’t last very long,” Christensen notes. “Nurses can help people get dressed, but you won’t have a nurse who brings you a glass of water whenever you’re thirsty.”  

Today’s robots recognize faces, speak several languages and have a long battery life. Pretty soon, harried office workers will be able tell a robot to clean their house. They can call the robot to see if they turned off the coffeemaker or to instruct him to make sure the kids are doing their homework. But a recent survey revealed which robot people most want: one that irons.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.