Earlier this year, Japanese company Softbank brought the world Pepper, a humanoid robot that has sold out in a minute each time it's gone on sale. Now, MJI Robotics, another Japanese robotics firm, is introducing a smaller, more accessible companion.
Demonstrated at this year's International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, the MJI (More Joyful Innovation) Communication Robot is an egg-shaped desktop device that communicates through a 5-inch screen. The screen shows the companion's emotive eyes as a default, but also serves as a display for photos, weather, news and other information. Set for a release of early 2016, the MJI Robot also has built-in telephone functionality.
The size of the robot is roughly that of an electric tea-kettle, and comes in at a weight of 3kg (6.5 lbs). It has Wi-Fi and 4LTE connectivity and is kitted out with cameras for motion-tracking, facial recognition and surveillance.
The MJI is being geared towards the elderly and those that require a simple communication interface with their technology. Thanks to voice activation and communication, the table-top buddy can send and receive messages and phone calls without requiring any manual input.
Additionally, its surveillance functionality allows it to monitor the elderly, with the device being designed the relay emergencies to the relevant contacts. The Japanese company also intends to implement educational and story-telling features for children, as well as smart-house connectivity.
The robot comes about from a collaboration between MJIRobotics and DMM, one of Japan's largest marketing and digital distribution companies. Through DMM's "Make Robots" initiative, the egg-shaped household desktop robot is currently nearing the end of development, going through the final stages of tweaking before being released as a companion for single occupant houses or the elderly in the first quarter of 2016.
While the MJI robot is currently being directed towards the Japanese market, the company has future plans for multi-lingual support and international availability.