Mini Robots For Companionship

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We’ve all been kids, most of us dreamed of having a talking pet of some sorts during our childhood. Unfortunately for us, this was never a reality, it could be soon.

Toyota, Japan, have developed 10cm tall mini robots called ‘Kirobo Mini’ to accompany people in general, mainly for commuting long journeys, the AI (artificial intelligence) involved is world class which allows the mini-bot to have conversations with you, it remembers what you’ve said and that process of learning helps it develop into your companion. It apparently can communicate via expressions and gestures too.

The robot will go on sale in Japan next year, priced at around 400US Dollars. Pre-orders will begin later this year according to our sources.

To operate, the Kirobo Mini requires a connection to a smartphone via Bluetooth, and you would need to subscribe for 3US Dollars per month.

Other practical robots have been introduced in Japan in the past and then crossed the ocean to the United States, including Sony's Aibo robot dog. However, they were only minor hits in the U.S., and nothing released stateside has ignited interest even close to the robot-craze that has gathered steam in Japan in recent years. Perhaps they should give South Africa a go!

Toyota Holds News Conference On Humanoid Robots

“"The Japanese have a special affinity for robots above and beyond what most other countries have," said Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

Actual practical robots haven't gained mass appeal in America, however.

"Things that work in Japan often don't work in the United States, said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

"There are a host of reasons for this: Technophilia is high in Japan -- the desire to adopt new technologies, even at the expense of looking geeky or odd," he told TechNewsWorld.

Japan has a "homogeneous population and a willingness to adopt something if thought leaders are doing it or recommending it," Kay added.

The country also is more or less culturally unified, which has led to a "benign monopoly in many sectors, leading to everyone adopting something at once," he pointed out.

Future for Robots

Pepper's success as a companion robot in Japan likely is due to one significant reason: the country's aging populace.

"Japan's population is famously old -- probably the oldest, on average, in the world right now," observed Kay.

"Old people in Japan are beginning to treat robots like pets, companions and helpers, and nobody thinks it's weird," he noted.

"Japanese social rituals are notably ornate and time-consuming, and so busy people -- which is everyone -- would rather do business with a machine," said Kay.

A robot "doesn't require the proper form of address and a lot of bowing as you back away," he noted.

It's "not that robot-companions won't come to the United States," Kay said, "but marketers have often stubbed their toes trying to bring some rage in Japan to this country."”

Source (c): Article in TechNewsWorld written by Peter Suciu

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