Japan makes robot girlfriend for lonely men

TOKYO Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:43am EDT

1 of 3. Sega Toy's female humanoid robot, Eternal Maiden Actualisation (E.M.A), kisses a man at its demonstration in Tokyo June 16, 2008. The robot, which has a womanish appearance, is able to walk, dance and kiss humans. It will be sold in the domestic market from September 26 with a price tag of 18,000 Japanese yen ($166).

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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TOKYO (Reuters) - She is big-busted, petite, very friendly, and she runs on batteries.

A Japanese firm has produced a 38 cm (15 inch) tall robotic girlfriend that kisses on command, to go on sale in September for around $175, with a target market of lonely adult men.

Using her infrared sensors and battery power, the diminutive damsel named "EMA" puckers up for nearby human heads, entering what designers call its "love mode".

"Strong, tough and battle-ready are some of the words often associated with robots, but we wanted to break that stereotype and provide a robot that's sweet and interactive," said Minako Sakanoue, a spokeswoman for the maker, Sega Toys.

"She's very lovable and though she's not a human, she can act like a real girlfriend."

EMA, which stands for Eternal Maiden Actualization, can also hand out business cards, sing and dance, with Sega hoping to sell 10,000 in the first year.

Japan, home to almost half the world's 800,000 industrial robots, envisions a $10-billion market for artificial intelligence in a decade.

(Reporting by Chika Osaka; writing by Rodney Joyce, editing by Miral Fahmy)

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