CES 2010 Robotics TechZone Features Kokoro, Keepons, and Paro Robots

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) has announced that it will showcase Japan’s emerging service robotics industry in the JETRO Robotics Zone at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada from January 7th-10th, 2010. Robots from Kokoro Co. Ltd., BeatBots LLC and PARO Robots US Inc. will be on display, and JETRO Chicago will deliver information on service robotics in Japan to further promote the commercialization of this nascent industry.

Located within the Robotics TechZone in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, CES attendees will be the first ever to see the new I-Fairy receptionist robot from Kokoro Company, Ltd., a subsidiary of the Sanrio Group. The company is building upon its reputation of creating humanoid robots, which began with its success of the Actroid robot that was introduced at Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan.

The “I” in I-Fairy stands for “Intelligent”, “Information”, and “Icon”, and the robot’s futuristic design is based on the image of a lovely fairy. The I-Fairy is an information robot designed to be a communication tool to interact with humans in a friendly manner, and has a sensor that upon detection of human visitors will automatically start audio guidance. Targeted for museums, institutions, and amusement parks, users can program the robot’s voice on a PC with voice synthesis software, which in turn generates movements such as nods or gestures to express a “conversational rhythm” between the robot and audience. The humanoid robot is 1.3m tall and has movement capability in its head, shoulders, arms and body. The robot has an optional voice recognition system for either English or Japanese, and it can also interact with video equipment.

Two therapy robots will also be on display in the JETRO Robotics Zone. BeatBots LLC will exhibit Keepon, a robot designed for interaction with children. Keepon has been used for over five years in social development research, autism therapy, and entertainment. Keepon is developed and distributed by BeatBots LLC, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is manufactured in Japan by Kokoro Company, Ltd.

Keepon consists of hardware and software for situating and operating the robot in laboratory or playroom settings for study or therapeutic practice, in exhibit-like settings for educational or entertainment purposes, or in settings and applications of the user’s own design. With soft rubber skin, cameras in its eyes, and a microphone in its nose, Keepon connects with children of different ages and levels of social development by directing attention, expressing emotion, and dancing in synchrony with music or children’s movement.

PARO Robots US, Inc. will feature the therapeutic seal robot PARO. Designed as a baby harp seal, the PARO robot is covered in pure white synthetic fur and has built-in intelligence providing psychological, physiological, and social effects through physical interaction with humans. It has been used in hospitals and healthcare organizations with elderly residents, people with disabilities, and dementia patients, as well as in schools for autistic children. PARO has five different types of sensors over its body that allows it to perceive people and the environment, and respond to touch, light, sound, temperature, and posture.

PARO Robots U.S. Inc. recently began order fulfillment and delivery of the PARO robots in the United States from its sales and distribution office in Itasca, Illinois. This follows receipt of Class II exempt pre-marketing notification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 21, 2009. PARO has been in use in Japan and throughout Europe since 2003, and was introduced to the U.S. in November 2008 with the assistance of JETRO Chicago.

About Kokoro Company Ltd.
Since it was established in 1984, Kokoro has developed a wide variety of robots including dinosaurs, animals and humanoids based on the main theme “touch the hearts of the people”. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Kokoro Co. Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Sanrio Group.

About BeatBots LLC
BeatBots LLC was founded in 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Marek Michalowski at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, and Dr. Hideki Kozima, at Miyagi University in Japan.

About PARO Robots U.S., Inc.
Headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, PARO Robots U.S., Inc. was founded by Sugino Machine Ltd., Japan and Intelligent Systems Co. Ltd., Japan; and serves as U.S. sales and distribution center for PARO products.

About JETRO
JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) is a government-related organization promoting mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Originally established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports abroad, JETRO’s core focus in the 21st century has shifted toward promoting foreign direct investment into Japan and helping small to medium size Japanese firms maximize their global export potential.