The Shape of Robots to Come

A segmented tower on a metal and plastic base swiveled around. Two glowing segments, suggesting a head, tilted forward and spoke: “Hello. My name is Scoty. Let me explain a few things about myself.”

In a vaguely female synthesized voice — but always in plain English — Scoty, the latest robot from the robotic-toy maker WowWee, demonstrated its functions for a visitor recently.

Chief among them are managing a personal computer’s communication and entertainment abilities, finding and playing songs by voice request, recording television shows, telling users when they have e-mail and, again by voice request, reading the e-mail aloud. It takes and then sends voice-to-text e-mail dictation. It takes pictures, and gives the time when asked.

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