NEC demonstrated the TWINPOS E-Money Self-Checkout System equipped with their communication robot PaPeRo at RetailTech Japan 2010 in March. The communication robot sits next to the self-checkout kiosk and verbally guides you through the process of scanning and paying for items. Unfortunately it appears that PaPeRo, speaking fluently in both Japanese and English in a cute childlike voice, serves as nothing more than a redundant distraction to the touchscreen’s written instructions. As you’ll see in the video, you can’t help but want to look at the robot when you really need to be paying attention to the screen’s prompts.
I like the idea of robots being used in this way, and studies have shown that people respond to robots more than they would an animated character on the screen, but one questions the need for these outdated systems. The new generation of inexpensive, printable RFID is on its way that could completely eliminate the need to individually scan items. Instead, the system could read the RFIDs of all the items in your cart simultaneously, tally up your purchase automatically, and simply request a payment method.