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Friday, Oct. 5, 2012

DoCoMo shows off smartphone robot technology at CEATEC show


Staff writer

Everywhere a visitor turns at this year's CEATEC, Japan's biggest high-tech exhibition, smartphones are being used to connect to everything from TVs and microwaves to air conditioners and automobiles.

News photo
At your service: NTT DoCoMo demonstrates a robot that recognizes voices and provides personalized assistance at the CEATEC electronics trade show at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture on Tuesday. AFP-JIJI

Not to miss out, NTT DoCoMo Inc. is adopting this strategy in a big way. Japan's largest cellphone carrier is introducing a robot concierge that communicates verbally with its master in addition to plucking personal data from the user's smartphone.

The prototype, called Shabette Robo, is designed to provide helpful everyday information and entertainment, such as recommending what music to listen to or the fastest way to get somewhere and tourist information before leaving, based on the user's smartphone data stored on the Internet.

Although the carrier doesn't know when it will hit the market, the moon-faced, 38.5-cm-tall, 6.5-kg robot has grabbed the attention of many visitors to CEATEC, which is running through Saturday at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture.

In a DoCoMo demo, a woman is planning a trip to Hokkaido the next day and the schedule is stored in her smartphone.

When she arrives home, the robot greets her: "Welcome home. You came home later than usual." It then reminds her of her trip the next day and asks if she wants to know what the weather will be like in Hokkaido and recommendations for sightseeing spots.

Answered in the affirmative, the robot searches the Internet and sends the results to her smartphone.

If asked to recommend music, the robot can play samples that are popular in the DoCoMo online market.

The carrier is promoting "personal cloud" services that provide helpful information and services to users by analyzing their behavior patterns and likes and tastes, and then combing the Internet for relevant data, such as shopping records.

Because it can converse, the robot has the potential to help elderly people who live alone, DoCoMo said.

The robot is a research prototype made by NEC Corp., which calls it PaPeRo.



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