WikiTalk is basically a talking Wikipedia. You tell the robot what topics you are interested in, and the robot tells you about them using the information from Wikipedia. The robot gets the information directly from Wikpedia, so you get the latest up-to-date information even for rapidly changing topics. Wikipedia information is more trustworthy than some other sources, because it is contimuously validated by a worldwide community of volunteer editors.

WikiTalk anticipates what you will probably want to hear about next and extracts links to related topics in Wikipedia. When you say the name of a related topic, the robot switches to the new topic and starts talking about it. Predicting likely topic shifts like this also helps speech recognition.

WikiTalk is multimodal and multilingual. It integrates face-tracking, nodding and communicative gesturing with speech synthesis and speech recognition, following the CDM Constructive Dialogue Model. The system now works in English, Finnish and Japanese.

Brief history of WikiTalk

WikiTalk was developed without support from University of Helsinki. With no funding for robots, the first version of WikiTalk in 2011 ran on a Pyro (Python robotics) simulator. In 2012 WikiTalk on Nao robots was implemented at Supélec in Metz, France as an international PhD summer school project. A Finnish language localisation for Finnish-speaking robots was made by the Academy of Finland DigiSami project as a step towards SamiTalk, using Nao robots borrowed from SASKY in Sastamala.

Since 2016 WikiTalk has been developed by CDM Interact, a Finnish startup company. A Japanese language localisation for Japanese-speaking robots was made at Doshisha University, Japan. A demo of multilingual WikiTalk with language-switching on a Nao robot was presented at COLING 2016 (International Conference on Computational Linguistics) in Osaka, Japan. In 2017 WikiTalk won an award in Best Robot Design (Software Category) at ICSR 2017 (International Conference on Social Robotics) in Tsukuba, Japan.

In 2019 WikiTalk was used with ERICA the female android robot at Kyoto University, Japan where Graham Wilcock was Visiting Professor. A demo of ERICA and WikiTalk was presented at IJCAI 2019 (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence) in Macao, China.