One thing I like about Japanese (and also find it a bit uncanny) is that they are open to forming digital relationships. The latest example is the cute robotic babies called Kirobo Mini, mostly targeting childless Japanese couples. These palm sized cute robotic babies wobble, blink, speak with a high-pitched voice just like a small baby and are also known to “evoke an emotional connection”. The number of childless couples in Japan is increasing with great speed and there are fewer couples who want to commit full-time to raising a child or children. For them, a cute robotic baby is much more preferred over a real, human baby that requires a full-time commitment. But let’s not judge. Every culture is different.
These cute robotic babies are equipped with artificial intelligence. They also have cameras so that they can recognize your face and respond accordingly. These robotic babies have been created by Toyota’s non-automative department.
Fuminori Kataoka, Kirobo Mini’s chief design engineer says, “He wobbles a bit, and this is meant to emulate a seated baby which hasn’t fully developed the skills to balance itself. This vulnerability is meant to invoke an emotional connection.”
The cute robotic baby comes with a cradle that can also double as a baby seat. The robot is so small that its cradle can be fit in the car’s cup holder. These robotic babies are not yet available in the market; Toyota plans to sell them in Japan next year and they may cost around $ 390.
Companion robots like Kirobo Mini are being designed by many companies all over the world. A few months ago you read on TechBakBak.com about a robot called Zenbo that may cost as little as a smartphone.
Kirobo Mini is a doe-eyed, palm sized robot, designed as a synthetic baby companion, primarily for childless Japanese couples, as explained by this Reuters report. There is a big population of ageing people in Japan who are childless. One of the biggest industrial nations in the world, Japan’s population has been declining steadily because fewer couples want to have kids. The report says that in the past half-century, the birth rate has declined almost by 50% in Japan, around 1 million a year. One in 10 women in Japan never marry and since births out of marriage are frowned upon, such women are having a big impact on the overall birthrate in Japan. But the cute robotic babies like Kirobo Mini may not just target these women who don’t get married but want to experience the company of a baby, even robotically, they are also targeted towards couples who would like to bring in some level of cuteness in their lives since they don’t have actual babies.
Here is the video of the cute robotic baby called Kirobo Mini
Kirobo Mini robotic babies are just another step towards a state of affairs when one day we may have robotic relatives moving around in the house.