Hi, Robot: Japan's android pets ease coronavirus isolation

Smart home assistants such as Amazon's Alexa have found success worldwide, but tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. Here's a look.

February 27, 2021 / 04:14 PM IST
Tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. This picture taken on February 4, 2021, shows communication robot Charlie in Nami Hamaura's apartment in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. This picture taken on February 4, 2021, shows communication robot Charlie in Nami Hamaura's apartment in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
With socialising limited, people in Japan are adopting to Charlie, a mug-sized robot with a round head, red nose and flashing bow-tie, who converses with its owner in song. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
With socialising limited, people in Japan are adopting to Charlie, a mug-sized robot with a round head, red nose and flashing bow-tie, who converses with its owner in song. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Lovot, a robot the size of a small toddler, with big round eyes and penguin-like wings that flutter up and down. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Lovot, a robot the size of a small toddler, with big round eyes and penguin-like wings that flutter up and down. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
A single Lovot costs around $2,800, plus fees for maintenance and software - but those without deep pockets can visit the Lovot Cafe near Tokyo instead.
A single Lovot costs around $2,800, plus fees for maintenance and software - but those without deep pockets can visit the Lovot Cafe near Tokyo instead.
A diner holding a Lovot robot in a cafe in Kawasaki. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
A diner holding a Lovot robot in a cafe in Kawasaki. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Home assistant Bocco emo, which looks like a miniature snowman. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Home assistant Bocco emo, which looks like a miniature snowman. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Studies show that therapeutic robot pets designed in Japan, such as fluffy mechanical seals, can bring comfort to dementia patients. This picture shows diners interacting with robots Lovot in a cafe in Kawasaki. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Studies show that therapeutic robot pets designed in Japan, such as fluffy mechanical seals, can bring comfort to dementia patients. This picture shows diners interacting with robots Lovot in a cafe in Kawasaki. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Robotic cushion petit Qoobo (L) and robot Bocco emo (R) in a studio in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Robotic cushion petit Qoobo (L) and robot Bocco emo (R) in a studio in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Robotic cushions Qoobo (front) and petit Qoobo (back). (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Robotic cushions Qoobo (front) and petit Qoobo (back). (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Shunsuke Aoki, CEO of Yukai Engineering, talking with the robot Bocco emo in a studio in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Shunsuke Aoki, CEO of Yukai Engineering, talking with the robot Bocco emo in a studio in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Shunsuke Aoki hugging robotic cushion Qoobo in a studio in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
Shunsuke Aoki hugging robotic cushion Qoobo in a studio in Tokyo. (PC-Philip FONG/AFP)
AFP

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