And now the news -- read by Rhoda Robot
Growing tired of the endless prattle of your regular radio announcer?
Then make way for the latest media personality: Rhoda Robot. Actually she is twins. Half of her is a humanoid that turns the pages, the other is really a glorified computer that has swallowed a dictionary.
Together they represent the first step toward totally automated broadcasting.
Scientists of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation (NTT) recently unveiled the latest in robot technology likely to be on the market within a year or so. An NTT spokesman explained that until now there has been no robot capable of emulating the normal delicate hand movements needed to turn the page of a book.
''Our robot, however, can turn over one page at a time or any number, depending on its instructions. It first gauges the size of the book and the thickness of the pages. It can then work quickly and accurately, and we guarantee there won't be a torn page in sight,'' he said.
Then there is an advanced computer that scans each word, checks its memory bank in a split second and delivers the sentence in synthesized tones resembling the normal human voice. According to the NTT spokesman: ''It can read a newspaper with a current accuracy rating of 99.5 percent, which is no worse than the best human efforts.''
And, ''If you then like the page-turning and word-reading robots, they could be used to replace radio news announcers or to handle directory inquiries !t telephone exchanges.''
The NTT scientists are quite serious about robot announcers, although they doubt the world is ready to have the news delivered on television screens like machines - even if some human announcers sometimes sound like automatons. On radio, however, NTT reckons most listeners will be hard-pressed to pick the voice as being nonhuman.
These aren't the only uses for the new robots, however. One example: bedside storytellers for the blind, the elderly, and other bedridden people.