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Monday, April 21, 2008

Nanny Robot

Newsletter "Japan Today" published a picture with children looking at a “babysitter” robot, developed by Tmsuk, at an Aeon shopping mall in Fukuoka. The newsletter reports that the robot can watch kids while parents go shopping. Children wear special badges with codes which the robot can read. The robot can then identify the children by their names and ages and chat with them using a limited vocabulary.

Some webreaders comment the news and are worried about "the risk of dehumanization", childrens curiousity to break the robot i pieces, what will happen in case of fire, also the partents judgement to use robots as guardians is critized. One reader writes: "Can the robot comfort a child who misses mummy? Can the robot ensure the safety of the children while they are playing? Can the robot stop a child from running out of the play area? Can the robot sense an emergency? Put band-aids on fingers?"

Public robot experiments with children engage people and often result in a list of pro and cons of robot use in society. Critics often define threats and what is missing to make a product och service more acceptable. For the curious inventor they are an important source to learn more about the consumers demands to get the innovation right. What the news doesn´t tell is what the children think about the new interactive nanny robot. Equiped with a tv-screen showing entertaining robot videos may "paralize" the kids for hours. This works fine in malls all over the world. Go on shopping, partents!

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