Some childless couples opt for adoption, while others seek a family through in vitro fertilization. Tony and Judy Ellis of the UK decided on a different route towards having a family: they built a child.
The mechanical progeny--if one can call it that--is named Aimec. Of course, Aimec is an acronym (aren't all robot names acronyms?) for Artificially Intelligent Mechanical Electronic Companion. This is the third model. No one's saying what happened to the first two.
Aimec is impressive for a child. He can tell jokes, sing Karaoke and surf the Internet.
A successful toymaker obsessed with automation, he and his wife own a toy company called Conceptioneering. Millions of children around the world have enjoyed his creations.
Their biggest success so far was in 2005 after the introduction of Cube World. Its sales reached into the millions.
Ellis, 54, is one of the world's experts on robotics. He maintains a workshop in his home that's stuffed to the ceiling with computers and almost 3 decades of experimental robotic systems.
Having designed and manufactured dozens of mechanical and digital toys, Ellis is hoping the Aimec prototype to be the first real affordable and useful robot. He predicts that in less than 10 years robots will be in most households.
In an interview with a British newspaper, Ellis asserts, "I think Aimec could sell for under $400 in the shops. It is basically ready--we are just waiting for a manufacturer to come on board and make it happen." While watching his robot child skitter across the room he adds, "In 10 years every home will have a robot. They will help mow the lawn, cook, clean the house. The potential applications are endless."
Seeing a bit of skepticism, Ellis chuckles. "Meet the 21st century family," Ellis proclaims while patting 3-year-old Aimec on his plastic shoulder.
Aimec responds with a jerk of his head, a wild swivel and a rocking body that look like it's about to tip over.
"We still have a few teething problems," Ellis clucks. He taps Aimec gently, readjusting the robot's head, "but it's nothing serious."
Aimec's view of Tony
Night club comedian in waiting?