09. 05. 2007
Humanoid robot, wakamaru, sadly discontinued
This story makes me so sad. It reminds me of the scene in Artificial Intelligence where the robot child played by Haley Joel Osment is sent out into the woods to fend for himself by his human mother; it reminds me of all the God-fearing Cylons hanging onto dear life in Battlestar Galactica.
We wrote about wakamaru about a year and a half ago, when Mitsibushi first introduced this domestic robot. But, as reported in The Nikkei Weekly, consumer response has been less than enthusiastic since then. It turns out that wakamaru just doesn't do enough, and is rendered somewhat useless in homes with multiple stories and homes without Internet access (query: why would someone who doesn't even have Internet access be purchasing an expensive robot?). Users found its voice-recognition capability too narrow, yet its body too big for small Japanese homes (yes, and some people wish their kids were smarter and a few inches taller).
Some families did get attached to this little guy, however, and threw farewell parties at the end of its functioning life this past spring, when Mitsubishi pulled the plug. Sigh.