Alongside the lifelike robot, shoppers can try their hand at futuristic screen technology that responds to touch in mid-air.
If you’re visiting Odaiba’s popular Aqua City waterfront shopping complex in Tokyo and would like to know more about the services in and around the building, there’s a very special lady on the third floor patiently waiting to help you out.
Chihira Junco, as she’s called, looks exactly like the type of polite, impeccably dressed and well-groomed staff attendant you’d find at a service desk in Japan. Only this young lady isn’t human at all; she’s a robot, created by Japan’s Toshiba Corporation.
According to the company, Junco gets her name from the fact that she was “born” in the month of June. Said to be a 26-year-old female, she stands at 165 centimetres (5.4 feet) and speaks three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese.
Making her debut at the end of October last year, the lifelike robot displays a variety of impressive facial features and hand movements which continue to draw large crowds daily. Adjacent to her is an information desk staffed by three real-life female attendants who, in stark contrast, attract no attention, with shoppers eagerly making their way to Junco instead.
Accompanying the android at her desk is a futuristic device that allows visitors to interact with Junco. The touch screen panel displays options for enquiries and responds to touch in mid-air, which means customers can keep their hands clean without having to make contact with any grubby surfaces.
Aiming your finger at icons in mid-air takes a bit of getting used to, but the panel responds accurately to the movement of users, with Junco immediately springing to life once the selection has been made, offering guidance and directions in the language chosen, complete with lifelike gestures and a friendly smile.
▼ Here she provides information about local transport, including directions and a timetable.
Visitors can make their enquiry from a list of options within select categories, such as: restaurants, transport access and tourist information.
In the future, the company plans to have Junco respond directly to questions from customers rather than have them chosen from a pre-selected menu. They also hope to add more foreign languages to her skill-set, with Korean slated for the near future.
When she’s not responding to customer requests, Junco spends time speaking in Japanese, Chinese and British-accented English in rotation, all the while turning her head occasionally from left to right and gesturing, blinking, and smiling throughout.
▼ She’s so lifelike that, from a distance, she looks like a real human-being.
Proving she’s a professional with a fun-loving attitude, Junco can often be seen dressed up in different outfits for special holidays like Christmas. If you’d like to meet her in person, you’ll find her dutifully working at the third floor information desk from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. daily.
▼ Watch Junco in action in the video below!
3F Information Desk, Aqua City Odaiba/アクアシティお台場
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Daiba 1-7-1
Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. daily
Photos © RocketNews24