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NAO robot can now speak 19 languages -- thanks to the cloud

The robot, created by Aldebaran Robotics, relies on Nuance's cloud-based voice recognition service

A humanoid robot created by Aldebaran Robotics is now connected to a voice recognition technology cloud that allows it to converse in 19 different languages.

The NAO robot features Nuance's Natural Language Understanding and text-to-speech and is slated to ship in early 2014.

The robot has a price tag of between $4,000 and $16,000, depending on its features and is only available to educational and research institutions.

Aldebaran's NAO robot visually tracking a ball

Previously, the robot could speak just eight languages.

NAO is 23 inches tall, and can walk on varying surfaces, track and recognize faces and objects, express emotions and react to touch. It has a sophisticated sensor network, including two cameras, four microphones, a sonar rangefinder, two infrared emitters and receivers, one inertial board, nine tactile sensors, and eight pressure sensors. It can even brace itself with its arms if it falls.

The robot, which is powered by an Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz chip, runs a Linux kernel and supports Aldebaran's proprietary middleware, which is programmable through the SDK that comes with it.

For example, the robot can be trained to dance to the song Gangnam Style by manipulating its arms and legs as the music plays. The movements are then identified with the music and the robot recognizes and executes them when it hears the song.

NAO dances to the song Gangnam Style.

As a result of being integrated with Nuance's voice recognition and text-to-speech service, Aldebaran will be able to create more interaction possibilities for future generations of robots, the two companies said.

"Nuance and Aldebaran have combined our voice and robotics innovations to showcase what's possible for human-robot communication," Bruno Maisonnier, Alderbaran Robotic's CEO, said in a statement. "Our vision is to create even more intuitive and human-like interactions between man and machine as part of the NAO experience, in turn creating a wealth of new application opportunities for NAO and the next generation of robotic companions."

The company said it will be able to "better develop how they will interact and engage in various settings, including education and special education environments with autistic children, and personal robotics."

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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