Japan has toyed with the idea of bringing robots into the home to care for its elderly for years, but the idea is finally moving from speculation to reality.
NTT, Japan’s largest telecommunications company, will begin placing tiny communication robots in the homes of some older Japanese citizens
In some ways, NTT’s robot launch seems to be an answer to Softbank’s (a rival Japanese telecom company) Pepper robot, which went on sale in June.
Although not as mobile as Softbank’s Pepper robot, the Sota is cheaper (about $800, plus a monthly service of around $30 for home use) and much smaller (just 11 inches tall), two major advantages considering the fact that many Japanese homes tend to be smaller and have tricky flooring for a rolling robot (e.g. tatami mat flooring).
In addition to its ability to communicate with the user verbally, the robot can also assist the user with health functions by interacting with wearable devices to check a user’s blood pressure and heart rate. The robot is also being touted as an interface for Internet of Things devices, with the ability to turn on smart televisions and dim a home’s lighting on command, for example.
“We hope to offer convenient services so that every household gets [a robot],” Shintaro Watanabe, head of technological development at NTT Data, told the Nikkei.
An exact launch date hasn’t been set, but the NTT hopes to begin offering the robot to elderly care facilities in March of 2016. Read more…