Not to be outdone by its electronics competitors, JVC (and a small company called Intelligent Robot Laboratory) developed a small humanoid robot of their own called the J4 which they debuted at the CEATEC JAPAN 2004 trade show. While it was only shown to gauge public interest, I think they’ve got a winner on their hands – and apparently TIME agreed, as it listed J4 on their list of the Coolest Inventions of 2004. It was also shown at the WPC Expo 2004.
The J4 had two cameras inside its head to support face and obstacle recognition, and animated LED eyes. Built-in microphones provided speech recognition, so you’d be able to verbally order him around, or take control via Bluetooth. It’s an incredibly small, but smartly-engineered little piece of robotics weighing in at a mere 771 grams (1.7 lbs), and standing 20cm (8 inches) tall, yet they still managed to cram in 26 DOF (degrees of freedom). Note how the configuration looks suspiciously similar to SONY’s patents from the turn of the millennium when they were building the early SDR prototypes.
As for its role in your life, JVC said that with camcorders and home theater equipment becoming increasingly complex, consumers could use J4 as a robotic universal remote. Which is kind of a silly answer, considering a gorgeous little cherry red bot like this needs no more purpose than simply looking cool. Besides the universal remote idea, JVC could market the J4 as an all-purpose electronics gadget: an alarm clock, email reader, weather forecaster, mp3 player, and home surveillance system.
Unfortunately they never did market the J4, which comes as a sad blow to robot enthusiasts everywhere (I’d definitely buy one!). With news all dried up, one can only wonder if and when we’ll ever see him again.
Impress Robot Watch | K. Moriyama (Flickr) | Xinhua