Business Design Laboratory is yet another Japanese company producing robots as therapeutic partners for the elderly (because no one wants to talk to grandpa after he had the accident). Ifbot (Interface Robot) is a communication robot that comes equipped with a camera, speaker, sound-direction recognition microphone, voice recognition microphone, wheels (self-propelled movement in 4 directions), obstacle sensor, and a step (grade-difference) sensor (stops before a step), and finally a handshake sensor in its hands.
The robot can perform functions such as conversation, calculator, puzzles, memory games, advice, medical check among the 15 functions it has. Designed to be especially expressive, ifbot can record, store, and playback voice messages, and sing and dance. Ifbot has blinking eyes, and 108 LEDs inside his face light up in a variety of patterns to simulate expressions, similar to NEC’s PaPeRo. There are tens of thousands of possible conversation patterns relating to daily life.
From the official website:
- Height: Approx. 45cm
- Weight: Approx. 9.5kg (excluding batteries)
- Age: 5
- Gender: ?
- Home: Planet Ifbot (several thousand light years away)
- Likes: Sweet dumplings & other sweets
- Dislikes: Spiders, earthquakes, water
- Hobbies: Talking, studying Earthlings
- Personality: Shy at first, but brisk and outgoing once the ice is broken
Ifbot is from Planet ifbot’s royal family, and will one day be the ruler of Planet ifbot. Ifbot had never been to Planet Earth, and had of course never seen any earthlings (humans). On the day of the field trip to Planet Earth, ifbot was very excited. But the spaceship that ifbot was on suffered an accident, and ifbot was separated from his robot classmates. The shock of the accident caused ifbot to lose his memory… And now, ifbot has arrived at your home.
The initial testing of ifbot in hospitals with the elderly showed that at first the patients weren’t interested in the robot, but slowly warmed up to it. Unfortunately, after only 5 weeks of interacting with it, they grew bored of it. It just goes to show we have a long way to go before robots can be truly conversational. Since ifbot costs approximately $6000, it’s not exactly flying off the shelves, but you can rent it for a small fee for birthday parties or promotional events.
- Business Design Laboratory (official site JP/EN)
- Business Design Laboratory’s ifbot page (JP) (EN)
- ifbot papercraft @ Robosquare (JP/EN)
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