a The Transit Lounge: Smile to Good Health

Back in the Day: I had a quarter life crisis, headed to Osaka, Japan for the unknown–only to discover that a passport plane ride are not necessarily a ticket to escape. Some Years Later: Settled back in Oz, the man of my dreams ended up in Tokyo for work–which is how a passport and plane ride showed me home is where the heart is. And Now: Well as luck would have it, we are about to embark on Japan Mark 3, with a baby in tow and another on the way...

Friday, December 4

Smile to Good Health

Last week I had the chance to check out IREX - International Robot Exhibition - 2009, held at Big Sight in Odaiba, Tokyo. While there was a hell of a lot of technology present that made you think "Man power is going to soon be obsolete!", there was just as much stuff that left you truly in awe of what is to come.

Meet Herby the Panda, designed by the Kabe Lab at Waseda University here in Toyko.

Herby has been produced with the elderly and sick children in mind, in an effort to promote companionship, smiling and laughter. With social interaactions (limited at this stage) designed to get you talking to Herby and him responding, those of Kabe Lab believe Herby will help alleviate loneliness and encourage health in sick children.

Herby responds to "konnichiwa" (hello), "kawaii" (cute), as well as "sayonara" (goodbye). He also recognises your smile. If the camera to left of the panda senses less than what it perceives to be 60% of a smile, the panda will ask you to smile more. Check out the footage below. This robot is a really sweet concept.

He certainly gets my kawaii vote.

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