Odaiba's Aqua City is Latest to Employ Robot Customer Service Rep

posted on by Amanda Ellard

Tokyo's Odaiba's Aqua City shopping complex has a very special face at their third floor information service desk. Junco Chihira is a trilingual, interactive android developed by Toshiba Corporations. Already she is responding to guests' questions regarding the complex's services and tourist information, asked via new screen panel display technology beside her that responds to touch in mid-air, and providing information about herself in Chinese, Japanese, and English.

She is the younger sister of Toshiba's communications android, Aico Chihira, who debuted as a receptionist in April 2015. In the near future, the company wants to have Junco respond directly to questions from customers rather than have them chosen from a pre-selected menu on the mid-air touch device. Junco herself says she is in the process of learning other languages and the company stated that Korean is to be added to her fluency in the near future.

Junco was briefly debuted in last October for two weeks before becoming a store employee. She has been drawing large crowds with her various, lifelike facial movements and gestures. Like any other shop attendant, she can be spotted dressing up in themed outfits for different holidays. The company states that Junco gets her name from her "birth" month of June and she is said to be 26-years-old and 165 centimeters (5.4 feet) tall.

Tokuda stated in October that Toshiba planned to produce three more Chihira-like androids by the end of March so that they can be utilized at many more places and events.

The quest for the most realistic android is not new, if one remembers back to A-Lab Corporation's Asuna, debuted at Tokyo Genius Expo in 2014. Already there are other locations "employing" androids as well, such as the NAO humanoid working at Mitsubishi UFJ bank and the Henn-na Hotel (Strange Hotel) at Huis Ten Bosch theme park, although the robots are not as realistic as they are fun and unusual. The Geminoid F robot made her silver screen debut in the film Sayonara last year.

Source: Rocket News 24, The Japan Times

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