April 14, 2006
A new profession for Hello Kitty?
From Business 2.0;
Can a robot replace your receptionist?
Diane Anderson, Business 2.0 Magazine
April 11, 2006: 3:50 PM EDT
So far, computers have displaced assembly-line workers, telephone operators, and musicians. Now a Japanese staffing firm wants to add front-desk personnel to the list. In February, Nagoya-based People Staff launched a service called Robot Dispatch: For $424 a month - or one-sixth the cost of one of the firm's human temps - Japanese companies can rent an electronic receptionist shaped like Hello Kitty.
Manufactured by Business Design Laboratory, also based in Nagoya, the 20-inch-tall Hello Kitty Robo can recognize as many as 10 faces, ask visitors to speak their names, and tell them when the person they have come to see is ready. With 20,000 stored conversation patterns, songs, and riddles, the robot is arguably more entertaining than many real attendants. Cheaper too. "Many Japanese corporations don't have a person at reception," says Chihiro Yamada, a People Staff spokeswoman. "If a company wants to hire a receptionist, we can save them money."
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