According to The Asahi Shimbun, curious customers can experience close encounters of the android kind at a department store in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, where a recently opened section offers a rare opportunity to interact with robots.
Most robots have been sold online to date, so Japanese department store operator Takashimaya Co. came up with the idea to open Japan’s first department store section dedicated to the futuristic machines at its Shinjuku outlet.
Shoppers can touch and talk to various types of robots at the 10-square-meter Robotics Studio on the store’s ninth floor, which opened on Oct. 4.
“Many robots closely related to everyday life have hit the market,” said a Takashimaya official.
“There is no doubt that robots will become more and more familiar to us, just like smartphones. We would like to propose the idea of life with robots for all ages.”
One robot available for a chat is Sota, developed by NTT East Corp., and priced at 156,600 yen ($US 1,380), including tax.
English-speaking Musio X can help learners with their language skills, and the robot produced by U.S. company AKA is priced at 105,840 yen, including tax.
Higher spending customers can also place their orders for the world’s first laundry-folding robot, Laundroid. The home-helper developed by seven dreamers laboratories inc. costs 1.99 million yen, including tax.
NTT East has sold Sota directly to nursing-care facilities on the assumption that the robots are to be used by elderly people.
Inquiries from the public asking where they can buy robots, or to see the products in the flesh, have been increasing recently.
“We appreciate these trends that enable us to expand our market,” an NTT East official said.
Setting its annual sales target at 30 million yen, Takashimaya plans to double the current sales space in March.
A special robot section is also expected to be set up at a Takashimaya store in the Kansai region.
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