May 29, 2012 at 3:30 PM ET
Ever feel like you have a little person on your shoulder keeping track of your every move, providing encouragement to keep up the good work or stop you from doing something bad?
That little person may soon be more than just your conscience; it could be a robot that provides real-time interaction between you and a remote friend (or parent) as you do what you do.
Imagine going on a trip, for example, and bringing along your best friend who’s stuck at home, or sticking a robot on your child’s shoulder to remotely chaperone a Friday night out.
The robot, known as the miniature humanoid, or MH-2, is under development at Yamagata University in Japan. It has head and body moves like a person. It even breathes like one.
The idea is that a person stands in front a TV screen or an immersive display with a sensor such as a Kinect. This person sees whatever the person with the robot sees.
“Meanwhile, the robot on your shoulder acts like an avatar, duplicating the speech and gestures of your friend right there for you to interact with directly,” IEEE reports in its Automation blog.
For now, the robot is controlled by servos in a 22 pound backpack, which would make bringing along a friend for every moment of a trip quite cumbersome, as well as awkwardly geeky.
But when the telepresence technology catches up with the imagination as illustrated in the video clip below, this could serve to keep friends and family close when they physically far apart.
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43384144/ series, watch the featured video below.