On Sunday, Japanese researchers unveiled a robot that can mimic speech and gestures sent to it by video-phone, replicating a distant caller’s presence. (And no, it’s not the dancing cellphone, which is actually much more fun.) Called the Telenoid R1, the robot will allow “people to feel as if an acquaintance in the distance is next to you,” according to its developers, Osaka University and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute. [Which is the greater mystery – why these academics think this is a good idea, or how they got the funding for the project?]. Japan robot brings visitors home by video-phone.