Today, Panasonic announces the intended funding campaign date for its upcoming cute n’ cuddly-themed smart robot Nicobo and its feature services. In accordance with this, the company also unveiled a few teasers, as well as a few technical information at the Japanese crowdfunding site Makauke.
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Precious Robots…Worth Protecting?
Nicobo, as it is officially introduced, is essentially a “dainty robot”, explicitly designed as a small and frail animal-like thing. The promotion material claims that with its round body, (adorable?) googly eyes, and thick but short tail, it can evoke a sense of protectiveness, in much the same manner as when we see cute stuff.
This is packaged with different vocal interaction features, that would allow it to speak, sometimes randomly, and sometimes in response to general things within its surroundings. It will sometimes space out, showing that it had clumsily forgotten some things that you taught it previously. Panasonic even proudly promotes its farting feature, as it would sometimes create similar sound effects when it is “sleeping.”
Put it simply, Nicobo is a smart plushie. A precious, smart-ish robot that will pinch your protective insincts… at least on paper. The robot’s concept was developed in a joint project between ICD-LAB and Panasonic. The initial theme of the idea had two things in mind:
- A robot that is “somewhat unreliable, but can’t just be left alone.”
- A digital entity that is “a member of the house rather than just a smart data terminal.”
Future of Lounging Bum Robots?
With the increased time at home due to the current pandemic, Panasonic hopes that Nicobo can provide an additional layer of interaction to what has otherwise been already a boring period. Indeed, the brief teasers kind of reflect the same thing that Softbank’s Pepper robot was promoted for: interactive robots meant to create a baseline connection, rather than just serving as an alternative information hub.
In fact, there are already a number of robots with slightly different iterations of the same “home-companion” concept. For example, Qoobo, who is also basically a smart plushie, but is designed way simpler. Or even Moflin, the real-life counterpart of a Klingon’s worst nightmare.
As for availability and release dates, Panasonic has yet to provide the details officially. That being said, the crowdfunding project at Makauke will officially start a few weeks later, on February 16th.