A crowd gathers near the entrance of Tokyo's upscale Mitsukoshi Department Store, which traces its roots to a kimono shop in the late 17th century.Fitting with the store's history, the new greeter wears a traditional Japanese kimono while delivering information to the growing crowd, whose expressions vary from amusement to bewilderment.
It's hard to imagine the store's founders in the late 1600's could have imagined this kind of employee.That's because the greeter is not a human -- it's a robot.Aiko Chihira is an android manufactured by Toshiba, designed to look and move like a real person. It was put on temporary display at the department store.
Toshiba says Chihira has 43 motors allowing it to move, speak in sign language and even sing.A growing number of Japanese businesses are testing out robots as a possible solution to the country's shrinking workforce.They're appearing in stores, banks and soon even hotels.
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is trying out "Nao," a customer service robot that answers basic questions and is designed to speak 19 languages. The robotic polygot could prove useful serving foreign customers during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.