Carnegie Mellon University

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Spotlighting Carnegie Mellon Innovations

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You're probably familiar with the peep-like dancing robot, Keepon. You may have even read "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" by alumnus Daniel H. Wilson. You could have downloaded Ali Spagnola's music on iTunes. The common denominator? Carnegie Mellon University.

A popular series of videos on Carnegie Mellon on YouTube now uses humor to spotlight some of these university favorites. And the vids have already been viewed more than 88,000 times on YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

One vid features Wilson battling Diane the RoboPhone, powered by Carnegie Mellon faculty-developed technology.  Another shows Wilson warming up to Keepon, who is programmed by Marek Michalowski, a Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. The third spotlights Wilson and Keepon as the little yellow 'bot earns his place on a Wall-of-Fame. Each vid is accompanied by tunes from Ali Spagnola (CFA '07).

"Carnegie Mellon is a smart place — but people have a great sense of humor too," said Wilson. "When the university asked me if I wanted to be involved in web videos that showed off our innovations and humor, I thought it was the perfect fit."

No stranger to technology himself, Wilson is the author of a series of tech satires. His latest book, "How to Build a Robot Army," was released this winter. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute in 2005 earning a Ph.D. in robotics; he also has a master's degree in robotics and machine learning.

In addition to the entertainment factor, the videos highlight the remarkable innovations and talents developed at Carnegie Mellon. And a series of three accompanying "pop-up videos" provides another serving of humor with insider information on what's being shown in each video.

The vids highlight the innovations — and humor — that are part of the Carnegie Mellon University identity. Our students, faculty and alumni have a reputation for working very hard to do some amazing things — especially when it comes to breaking ground at the intersection of arts and technology. At the same time, they prove that — no matter their discipline — Carnegie Mellon's finest know how to not take themselves too seriously.

While Keepon may be best known for dancing to Spoon tunes, he's also used in research on social development and communication. The Cepstral Text-To-Speech tool that powers Diane's voice in one video also has the power to be used for learning disability education and other assistive technology applications.

For more on the videos, and the innovations and talents behind them, visit www.cmu.edu/robou.

Related Links: Keepon: Friend or Foe?  |  Daniel vs. RoboPhone  |  Keepon Auditioning  |  RoboU  |  Carnegie Mellon on YouTube