Toshiba robot
Toshiba's "communication android" can use sign language Youtube

Toshiba have shown off a humanoid robot that can communicate using sign language.

Unveiled at the Cutting Edge IT & Electronic Comprehensive Exhibition in Japan, the "communication android," as Toshiba refers to it, can make hand signals such as greetings.

The robot, named Aiko Chihira, was designed to have maximum flexibility in hands and arms using 43 actuators in its joints so that it can speak in Japanese sign language, reports CNET.

Toshiba plans to develop the device into a full communications robot by 2020, equipping it with speech synthesis and recognition, robotic control and variety of other sensors.

The robot's purpose, the company said, is to be a "companion for the elderly and people with dementia, to offer tele-counselling in natural speech, communicate through sign language and allow healthcare workers or family members to keep an eye on elderly people."

Osaka University, which has been designing humanoid robots for a while now, collaborated on the Aiko Chihira project, supplying Toshiba with the necessary tech to make the android sufficiently human-like.

The sensor-based motion-teaching technology and robot driving technologies were provided by the Shibaura Institute of Technology and Shonan Institute of Technology, with Toshiba creating the algorithm that controls and coordinates the actuators which enable sign language capability.