Toyota developed a new device called Kirobo Mini. This small robot could be a pleasant companion for lonely people, having the ability to talk. In Japan, people think of using Kirobo Mini as a substitute for a baby. There has been registered a significant drop in the birth rates. The robot has a height of about four inches, and it has a baby voice. Kirobo Mini will be sold for $300 in Japan.
The general manager of the project, Fuminori Kataoka argues that this robot has an emotional value and it could be used in the car or in the house. The little robot has many other uses than being a faithful friend. It has a microphone, a camera, and Bluetooth. After the user installs an app, he or she can connect Kirobo Mini to the smartphone. Also, the little device can recognize its owner’s voice, and it will turn its head whenever it is called.
The launch of Toyota’s new device will occur in Tokio near Aichio. The robot will be on the market for every country starting with next year. For the moment, the producers haven’t planned to sell it outside Japan. Kataoka claims that many people in Japan are leaving alone and they could use something or someone to talk to. He also admits that the little robot is not that smart to be called AI. Kirobo Mini is just a device that could banish your loneliness. Its features are meant to nurture an emotional link with its owner.
The manager of the project gives his daughter as an example. She used to talk to a stuffed animal. The same thing happens with the robot, but the great advantage is that it could also respond to you. This idea of owning a robot-friend is widely spread across Japan. That is why, a year ago Softbank Corp, a Japanese company, had launched the Pepper robot, estimated at $1,500. Ten thousand such robots have sold in Japan so far.
In the US, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is working on producing companion robots too. In fact, the scientists are about to launch Jibo, a robot which looks like a pivoting lamp.
Artificial intelligence managed to get one step closer to becoming part of our daily routine, from robots to cars. Would you use one of these intelligent robots as a companion?
Image courtesy of: wikipedia