Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp wants consumers to connect with mini talking robots.
The talking robot called Kirobi Mini, whose name comes from “hope,” is just as smart as a 5-year-old. The 4-inch-tall Kirobo Mini is small enough to be carried around. When people place the Kirobo Mini in their cars, it encourages safe driving by saying phrases like “Oops!” when the driver steps on the brakes suddenly, and “Don’t leave me behind”, when left in the vehicle.
The Kirobi Mini comes equipped with Bluetooth, camera and microphone, and can connect to a smartphone, but needs to be installed with a software application. It can even turn its head when it hears a voice, though that function can fail since its voice recognition isn’t great, just yet. Toyota claims that Kirobo mini owners will have to pay $3 to connection to the Kirobo mini.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Fuminori Kataoka, general manager in charge of the project, said more people are living alone in Japan, including the elderly and young singles. And they need someone, or in this case something, to talk to.
Kataoka said “Toyota has been making cars that have a lot of valuable uses. But this time we’re just pushing emotional value.” If you’re feeling sad, the Kirobo robot will wobble around, look at you in the eye and ask: “Why are you feeling sad?”
As of right now, the Kirobo mini robot only has the ability to wave its hands and turn its head.