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Aqua City’s android has the answers

Odaiba’s Aqua City waterfront shopping complex in Tokyo has an unusual lady on the third floor who waits patiently to answer visitor inquiries.

Chihira Junco looks exactly like the type of polite, impeccably dressed and well-groomed staff attendant you’d find at a service desk in Japan, only she is not human at all – she is a robot, created by the Toshiba Corporation.

Robot Japanese mal 1

Junco gets her name from the fact she was “born” in June, reports Rocket News. Said to be 26 years old, she stands at 165cm and speaks Japanese, English and Chinese.

Her facial features and hand movements draw large crowds daily. Next to her is an information desk staffed by three real-life female attendants who tend to be overlooked.

Alongside the android at her desk is a futuristic device that lets visitors interact with her. A touch-screen panel displays options, and responds to mid-air “touch”, meaning customers do not have to actually touch any surface.

Robot Japanese mal 2

Once the selection has been made, Junco springs to life, offering guidance and directions in the language chosen, complete with lifelike gestures and a friendly smile. Visitors have a list of options for their inquiries, 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 use a menu. They also hope to add more foreign languages, including Korean.

When not responding to customer requests, Junco spends time speaking in Japanese, Chinese and British-accented English in rotation. On special holidays, like Christmas, she dresses up in appropriate outfits.

* More photos here.

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