Posted in biology, communication and networking, medical imaging, Optics

Week of TED: Einstein stops by

TED has become SO big, they’re even re-animating famous dead people to present at the conference. Actually, in this particular case it was a robot with an animatronic face designed to look like Einstein, bushy mustache and all. This particular Einstein robot was also designed to emote and empathize with TED attendees. No, really.

The Einstein-bot was designed by David Hanson of Hanson Robotics.  The robot will follow people with his eyes and smiles or frown if people frown at him. This is Hanson’s fourth rendition of Einstein, but has created many robots with the goal of creating a robot that can actually identify people’s emotions and respond in kind. He also uses a specifically designed type of flexible rubber, aptly named Frubber, to allow the skin over the robot to move like human skin.

Hanson told reporters at TED that he thoroughly enjoys creating these really, really life-like robots. Einstein’s face can replicate 48 different facial expressions, and uses 32 motors. This is a cool slideshow of how the tean put him together.

Some of the same computer techniques were used in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, also highlighted in this week’s blogging.

There are many more cool talks and presentations that occurred at TED this year, and I encourage you to explore them all. While I enjoyed my personal exploration of the different talks, I also feel like I have neglected a lot of other important art and science news, such as the scientific and technical awards given out by the Academy Awards this past weekend. More on that next week.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.