Japan is well known for both its love and skill of robots. Free of the terminator-induced prejudices of western cultures, they have blazed the way for robotic tour guides, waitresses, fish, singers, hairdressers, waste baskets, cyclists, rock-paper-scissors players, cockroaches, butts…
With so many robots, it’s hard to come up with an original one. But they are still out there. Tokyo University’s Center for the Study of Robotics came up with Denta-kun, the calculator using robot. Just to make it clear, the robot does not calculate. It just uses a calculator.
The name is derived from the Japanese word dentaku (calculator) and uses the suffix kun, which is kind of like Mr. but much less formal and often used with children. Kind of like if you say, “hey mister turtle!”
A video demonstration was made and uploaded to video sharing site NicoNico, but it can be a little confusing so a brief explanation is needed.
The video opens with someone coming across Sorobon, which is an abacus using robot. Ignoring the ironic subtext of Sorobon, they are inspired to take it to the next level by making a calculator-using robot.
First they craft the parts needed and assemble the robot. Next they design and build its circuitry, and when it’s all together they dub it Denta-kun.
Initial testing was rough, with Denta-kun flailing about wildly and producing wrong answers. However the bugs were soon smoothed out and Denta-kun was punching buttons like a pro.
The next step was to convert it from a completely pointless robot to a mildly useful one by replacing the keyboard input with a voice command system. With improved speed as well, Denta-kun could finally take verbal calculations and quickly provide answers.
Now enjoy the show.
I had a lot of fun questioning the purpose of Denta-kun, but in reality this cute little robot could potentially improve my quality of life greatly.
You see, I suffer from a condition called left-handedness. It’s a disease which afflicts nearly ten percent of the population, including Barack Obama and Luke Skywalker. As a result, I cannot use the number pad on the right side of my keyboard. Check it out. Cobwebs are forming on it.
If Denta-kun could be modified to fit onto a keyboard, then I wouldn’t be mocked for my disability anymore. No sir, no more mocking for me with my yellow rubber glove robot hand punching number keys.
Source: NicoNico (Japanese)