"Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."--Hal 9000 in "2001: A Space Odyssey"
Having a meaningful chat with a computer may seem like science fiction, but engineers at consumer electronics manufacturer Philips have created a device that is one part robot, one part art piece and overall a very good conversationalist.
The smart companion, who goes by the name of Dimi, is apparently able to speak and understand voice commands as well as recognize faces and gestures.
The 4-foot prototype was built by engineers at Philips' Home Dialogue Systems. The company's technology incubator said it plans to license the technology to other consumer electronics makers.
Hook up Dimi to your home network and you can start asking it the really important questions, like, "What will the weather be like tomorrow? How is my stock doing? What is the recipe for ratatouille?"
Philips said you could even order Dimi to load your Christmas photos into your plasma TV and start the slide show for friends. Pass the popcorn.
On a more serious note, Philips said a Dimi-like device could be networked to help monitor and serve patients and elderly persons in their homes.
If all goes well, Philips predicts a Dimi-like robot in the home could become as common as a PC or TV.