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Humanoid robot makes storefront debut in Valentine's experiment

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 02:24

Feb. 10 - Flowers, chocolates and romantic greeting cards are flying out the doors of department stores around the world this week, ahead of February 14th - Valentine's Day. Romance is in the air, but for scientists in Japan, Valentine's Day is also providing the ideal opportunity to test the public's love of robots. Rob Muir reports.

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Patiently she sits, waiting for her Prince Charming to call. But her phone isn't ringing and it's not that she isn't attractive. It's that she's a robot. Her name is Geminoid F and she's been sitting in a display case at Tokyo's Takashimaya department store for more than a week. Vice manager Naoto Nomura says Geminoid F gives the store chache. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TAKASHIMAYA SALES PROMOTION DEPARTMENT VICE MANAGER NAOTO NOMURA SAYING: "Department stores used to represent the cutting edge, but people no longer think that. That's why we decided to display this sort of cutting edge Japanese technology here." But Geminoid F's presence serves a scientific purpose as well. Her creators want to observe the inerteraction between her and passing shoppers with an eye to future societies where robots and humans will interact on a daily basis. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) MEMBER OF HIROSHI ISHIGURO LABORATORY KOHEI OGAWA SAYING: "Valentine's day is the season of the love. When programming this robot we tried to make it so that she would sit and expect someone to come, and keep repeating that cycle. All in all, we worked to make it so that the android would be able to show the romantic charms of a lady." And it seems to be working. One shopper, Yuta Mori says he might just be the man Geminoid F has been waiting for. SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 30-YEAR-OLD VISITOR YUTA MORI SAYING: "It's looks really human-like, not like a doll at all. Even when I get close to her, I saw how high quality her skin was and how she stared back into my eyes." The Valentine's experiment is not the first in which Geminoid F has been introduced to the public. In 2010, she was cast as the star of "Sayonara" a futuristic play about an intimate relationship between a dying woman and her android caretaker. The play was well-received. For her creators, Geminoid F's gradual integration with society is all-important to future robotic technologies. If the public can accept Geminoid F on stage and as a department store display, robot scientists say they are more likely to her accept in their homes, offices and department stores in years to come. Rob Muir, Reuters

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Humanoid robot makes storefront debut in Valentine's experiment

Friday, February 10, 2012 - 02:24