Blogs & Comment

Britney Spears isn't a robot, but she may be soon

South Korean robot makers are launching robots that impersonate K-pop groups. It could spell extra shelf life for aging stars.


Robots perform at Marine Robot pavilion on the opening day of the 2012 Yeosu Expo in Yeosu, South Korea (Photo: Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Oh sure, we like to joke about how modern pop stars are robots, merely carrying out pre-programmed actions and singing computerized songs that are guaranteed to sell thanks to the algorithms that write them. But we were only, kidding, right?

Nope. It looks like South Korean robot makers are going to have the last laugh after all. Dongbu Robot says it is going to this year launch robots that impersonate K-pop stars such as Girls’ Generation and Super Junior. The robots will be able to re-enact the actual stars’ dances and movements through more than 20 motor joints throughout their bodies and will have realistic artificial skin, according to the company.

What’s more, users will be able to download new songs into the robot and watch them perform. It’s Guitar Hero on a whole other level.

Details, such as how much these machines will cost, are scant but it looks like the robots are intended for home entertainment purposes. If the company pulls it off, it can’t be too much longer until fully human-looking robots are performing on stage in front of thousands, perhaps even joined by holograms. (Isn’t it ironic that the Spice Girls announced a reunion just a day after Dongbu’s reveal?)

On the business side of things, the prospect of licensing one’s image to robot makers is a veritable goldmine for celebrities. Indeed, people like Britney Spears or Lady Gaga can continue making money from performing years after they’ve reached the end of their shelf life (something Britney arguably did years ago).

As usual, the porn industry is streets ahead. Adult entertainment company Wicked Pictures partnered with sex doll maker Abyss Creations back in 2010 to create Real Dolls in the likenesses of several of its porn stars, such as Jessica Drake and Alektra Blue. While Real Dolls aren’t robots, they’re certainly a solid waypoint on the way to such machines.

With South Korea being one of the world’s biggest pornography markets, it’s a safe bet that some robot manufacturer is on it.