The successor to NEC’s R100 robot is PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot). Giving new meaning to kawaii, it was deemed the cutest robot in a 2008 survey of urbanites shopping in Akihabara. PaPeRo’s motto is, ”Live life with more time to spare”.
The colorful, toy-like veneer betrays PaPeRo’s many useful functions. It can understand 650 commands, has a vocabulary of 50,000 Japanese words and 25,000 English words, and can translate between the two. It can recognize and remember faces, read your emails to you, and send messages. You can take control with a cellphone, and see through its eyes on the cellphone’s LCD screen (useful for home surveillance, baby monitoring, or simply fooling around). And when you’re not at home, you can keep in touch via its CG incarnation, which transfers your personal robot’s personality and knowledge back and forth between the actual robot and your laptop.
At the 2005 AICHI EXPO in Japan NEC unveiled a new, enhanced version called PaPeRo 2005, equipped with an infrared ray spectroscopic analysis arm modification (try saying that two times fast) which scanned food items and estimated their fat and sugar content. Infrared rays of various wavelengths were beamed at the food, and depending on the absorbency spectrum (unique to each item), PaPeRo could perform a “taste” test. It was so accurate that it could distinguish cheese by brand. It’s ability to “taste” wine also led to its inauguration into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s first sommelier robot.
NEC has also developed a version called Childcare PaPeRo, which has been modified for use especially by children. In February 2009, NEC began a kindergarten program with PaPeRo. Eventually they’d like the robots to read books or sing songs with the children.
- NEC Personal Robot Research Center (JP/EN)
- NEC: PaPeRo 2005 & Childcare PaPeRo (EN)
- NEC: PaPeRo enters Guinness Book of World Records (EN)
- NEC: A robot with taste! (official press release EN)
- NEC: The science behind PaPeRo’s sense of taste (research paper EN)
- NEC: Robot-Type User Interface Platform (research paper EN)
- NEC Systems Technology (official site EN/JP)
Impress Robot Watch | NEC PaPeRo high resolution photo gallery (EN)