Panasonic has announced a new project in development, called NICOBO.
NICOBO is a companion robot with a strong personality. It even talks and farts in its sleep.
The little gray robot will gaze at you, blink its eyes, and wag its tail. Almost like a cat, it makes you want to ask, “What’s up? What do you want?”
You can talk with NICOBO and he’ll respond with his own language called MOCO, or parrot your Japanese.
When you think of Panasonic, you probably think of home appliances. Panasonic continues to develop products to make people’s lives more convenient.
“But what about people’s hearts?” questions Project Leader Yoichiro Masuda. “I wonder if the speed of information and development of communication tools have made human relationships more diverse, at the cost of losing a bit of space in our minds,” he contemplates.
In coordination with Panasonic, NICOBO and the concept of a “weak robot” was developed by Professor Okada of Toyohashi University of Technology.
NICOBO is basically helpless. She can’t move on her own, so she needs to be cared for. But that doesn’t mean she’s always happy to have you around.
NICOBO will wag her tail and coo gently if you pet her or hold her in your arms. But there are also times when NICOBO will sulk and turn away to get your attention.
“The intention behind a “weak robot” like NICOBO is to create a robot that will unintentionally draw people to help it. To create a robot that can cheer someone up and make them smile.”
NICOBO has sensors to detect when it’s being petted or held.
It likes to sunbathe and reacts to strong light.
It’s equipped with a camera that can recognize human faces.
It has multiple microphones to recognize the direction a sound comes from and to understand spoken words.
It’s battery-powered. It can run for 2-3 hours on a single charge.
It’s nearly spherical in shape with a diameter of about 21-23 cm and weights about 1.2 kg.
It requires a Wi-Fi connection and a smartphone app for IOS/Android.
NICOBO is expected to be available from March for those who crowdfunded the project.
At the time of writing, the campaign has well exceeded its target goal and all rewards have already been taken. Seeing how successful the campaign has been, one can only hope it will go into general production at a later date.
Click here to learn more about this project on Makuake.com.
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