In a world where online shopping is king, Toshiba hopes technology can change the in store experience – with a robo-assistant. The firm’s humanoid robot is set to start work at the information desk of a department store in Tokyo to help customers find their way around. It entertains
The female-looking robot, named Aiko Chihira, will only speak Japanese – but she is also capable of sign language. However, Chihira is unlikely to engage in small talk its makers admit.
The robot’s appearance wasn’t modeled on any specific person but was designed to give a friendly impression, according to Toshiba. (Credit: Toshiba)
Instead the robot was created to appear, talk and move as humanly as possible. Chihira blinks, bows and moves its mouth and lips smoothly while speaking.
A Toshiba spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that Chihira is programmed with multiple human-like expressions, and that it will offer six-minute guidance to customers with information about the department store including events. Chihira has appeared at exhibitions and events, but this is the first time it will provide customer service.
The robot will be set up at the Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Ms Chihira uses sign language to introduce itself to humans. Toshiba describes the eerie android, which has blinking eyes and a fixed smile, as having the appearance of ‘a friendly young woman.’
At present, the android can mimic only simple movements, such as exchanging greetings and signing in Japanese. The technology was first shown off at Ceatec 2014 in Japan. (Source: WSJ)
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