IREX 2007: SIMROID Dental Training Android System (Video)
Until recently androids have been positioned similar to exhibits in an old carnival side-show. They frequently focused on the 'wow' factor and tried to astound people with how realistic or human like they were. That's typical for the initial introduction of any new major technology breakthrough, but it doesn't last long. Within a few years the 'wow' wears off and becomes commonplace, or even old-hat.
To be sustainable, and to form the foundation for viable, long-term business, new technology has to be applied to real human needs. It has to contribute in some meaningful way to improving the quality of life, process efficiency, or business profitability.
Now we're starting to see android technology used in applications that provide a glimpse of what the future might hold. An excellent example is the new SIMROID system that can be used to train dental students. We had the chance to watch the system in use at the International Robot Exhibition 2007 (IREX) here in Tokyo last Friday, and were extremely impressed. It is extremely easy to believe that the android is real, and is experiencing discomfort or pain in the dentist's chair (see video below.)