Nigerian start-up unveils Omeife, touted as Africa’s first humanoid robot
A Nigerian tech start-up has developed what is touted as Africa’s first humanoid, a six-foot tall female robot that can speak up-to eight languages.
The humanoid is called Omeife and was developed by two-year-old Abuja-based tech start-up Uniccon Group.
Omiefe is programmed to speak Pidgin, Yoruba, English, French, Arabic, Kiswahili, Hausa, Igbo and Afrikaans.
In her first speech posted on Youtube, Omeife says she “was developed in Africa” and that she enjoys learning about science, the arts and “African people and culture.”
“I am proud to be the first humanoid developed on the continent,” Omiefe said.
Techcabal quotes Chuks Ekwueme, chairman of the Uniccon Group as saying that Africa’s first humanoid also understands gestures, bodily language and hand illustrations.
“It’s not just multilingual, it has the ability to switch languages and interact with specific gestures – and illustrations, smile and other bodily gestures – that match the tone of the conversation,” said Ekwueme.
Uniccon Group sourced components for the manufacture of Omiefe locally as Nigeria ups its play in the regional tech scene.
According to Ekwueme, the humanoid was designed to support humans with “precision” in tasking, speech and understanding.
“We never planned to replicate humans but to build a robot that can support humans with some level of precision, and we have done that,” he said.
Additionally, the Nigerian start-up has also built cloud infrastructure to help Omiefe collect and “store terabytes of behavioural data” from scratch.
This infrastructure is now being commercialised and offered to third party clients such as private and government entities.
Regional and international robotics and AI sector players say the development of Omeife, described as remarkable, opens up the region to robotics and humanoid possibilities.
Zimbabwe IT expert Tavonga Zindonda said, “It is a remarkable development,but as the ecosystem for African humanoids grows, we also need to look at more and broader capabilities to assist humans and across industries. Having a humanoid that recognises human speech and gestures is a good beginning step for other developers and robotics technicians from the region.”
The Uniccon Group has also developed Ike Igwe, a smart drone.