If you were born in the 80s, chances are you’re familiar with “Short Circuit”, a sci-fi comedy about a robot named Johnny 5. This was back when personal humanoid robots seemed to be the next step in electronic consumer products. Everyone wanted one but it sadly just never came to pass. For those still hoping that the day will come when we get to own home robots, here’s some good news from Japan — Yaskawa, a company known for its industrial robots, is currently working on a humanoid robot that can be operated remotely via Kinect interface – the SmartPal VII.

The developers of the robot believe that the SmartPal VII can be used as a way to communicate and assist with simple chores. The video shows how the robot is being controlled as it picks up items from the floor and puts them away in a box allowing users to “operate a robot at their mother’s house in Fukuoka, so they can talk to their mother and help tidy up her house,” all made possible by Kinect-based controls.

The creators say that they’re not sure who the target market will be at the moment but they do envision creating a robot that will assist people with their day to day tasks. It’s amazing how a device that initially was designed to control games is finding itself at the center of scientific advancements that were once just part of science fiction.

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