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Author Topic: Yotaro, a robot whose role in life is to boost Japan's sagging birth rate  (Read 5869 times)

Jay Sadie

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[float=right][smg id=81 caption="Yotaro"][/float]People often joke that being around a baby is the best form of birth control, but folks in Japan are hoping for the opposite effect ... when the baby is a robot.

Enter Yotaro: A computerized baby who feels and acts like a real baby. From the cute -- giggling and cooing to the more challenging parts  -- runny noses and crying, Yotaro does it all ... including triggering human desire for a baby.

Created in the Uchiyama Lab at Japan's University of Tsukuba, Yotaro is meant to be a baby simulator for teaching new parents and about-to-be-older-siblings the ways of babyhood. As crying is obviously a big part of infancy, warm water comes out of a small opening in the interactive screen that doubles as Yotaro's touch-sensitive face.

Yotaro, just a concept for now, is not a standalone robot, as a rather extensive set of devices must be attached for it to perform its baby-like functions.

Hiroki Kunimura, project leader for the robot, who calls himself Yotaro's "daddy", believes his baby can help with Japan's low birth rate.

"I think it's true that young working couples have no chance to have personal contact with babies in their lives. The people who came to the robot exhibitions enjoyed touching Yotaro, like a real baby," Kunimura said.

Yotaro calms down when you touch his (warm) skin, and sure sometimes that works for real baby. Other times, that same touch may send your baby into a three-hour fit of screams.

Some may find Yotaro a little scary looking, and people who fall in love with the idea of a baby based off of a robot baby are probably going to be in for a rude awakening when they find out just how unpredictable real babies can be.

Of course, when it comes to parenting, none of us ever had any idea what we were really in for (good and challenging), did we?

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« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 05:20:04 AM by Jay Sadie »
"I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success." - Nikola Tesla
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