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Can a robot baby curb loneliness among Japan’s senior citizens? | TechInAsia

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13 January 2015



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SoftBank’s hotly-anticipated robot companion, Pepper, touted as being capable of recognizing and responding to human emotions, won’t go on sale at the telco’s retail outlets until next month. But a decidedly more low-tech “baby robot,” designed to curb the loneliness faced by many seniors who live away from their families, is slated to hit the market next week.

Smiby, jointly developed by Chukyo University’s robotics department and Togo Seisakusyo Corporation, requires “parents” to attend to it as if it were an infant child. If left alone for too long, the white plastic and silicone robot will cry. According to The Asahi Shimbun, motion sensors detect when a parent picks Smiby up and rocks it in their arms. When happy, the 44-centimeter long, 1.2-kilogram robot will display pink LED cheeks and coo like a real baby. Rocking it too hard or – gasp – dropping it will cause blue LEDs to light up, indicating tears.

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Hallie Siegel robotics editor-at-large
Hallie Siegel robotics editor-at-large





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