Humanoid robot Saya works reception at Takashimaya main entrance [+]
Saya, a female humanoid robot that can recognize and respond to human speech, spent the past several days working as a receptionist at the prestigious Takashimaya department store in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district.
Saya dressed in Takashimaya uniform [+]
Developed in 2004 by professor Hiroshi Kobayashi of the Tokyo University of Science, the speech-capable robot can provide about 700 programmed responses to questions and commands -- enough to direct customers to the appropriate floor, make small talk, and answer a few basic questions about herself and her background.
A customer asks Saya a question [+]
Pneumatic actuators in Saya's head allow her to move her neck, mouth and eyes while she speaks. She can produce facial expressions ranging from happiness and surprise to sadness and anger.
A peek behind the counter [+]
During her stint at Takashimaya from October 14 to 18, Saya dressed like her human co-workers in a Takashimaya receptionist uniform. She also wore makeup by RMK (view a close-up). Curious shoppers seemed amused by her presence, and many stopped at the reception counter to ask questions and chat.
A shopper tells Saya she is pretty [+]
Although she responded appropriately most of the time, the cyber-receptionist occasionally seemed to misunderstand what people said. For example, one person complimented Saya by saying, "You are pretty," but the robot flashed a look of disdain and responded with, "Are you crazy?"
"Are you crazy?" [+]
Saya grabbed headlines earlier this year when she took on a side job as a substitute teacher at a Tokyo elementary school.