Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) plans to launch sales of its compact and cuddlesome Kirobo Mini communication partner through Toyota vehicle dealers across Japan in 2017. The nationwide rollout will be preceded by pre-sales at designated dealers in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture in December, for which advanced orders will be taken online.
Tentatively priced at 39,800 yen (excluding tax), plus a monthly fee of approximately 300 yen for the dedicated app, Kirobo Mini is a miniature communication partner developed to provide companionship.
The gadget’s continuous communication time is around 2.5 hours, and its battery charging time is around 3 hours. It fits in the palm of the hand, is only 10cm high when seated and weighs 183g.
It turns its head towards the person speaking and engages in casual conversation, in Japanese, while moving its head and hands. Its compact size means it can be taken just about anywhere, including the car cabin, helping it to fulfill its role as a cuddly companion always on hand for heart-touching communication.
Kiboro Mini’s range of gestures and conversation abilities are mainly made possible by connecting it via Bluetooth to a smartphone installed with a dedicated app. A built-in camera enables Kirobo Mini to recognise people’s facial expressions, through which it tries to detect their emotions so that it can accordingly adjust its manner of speaking and moving. Kirobo Mini can also converse based on information drawn from the vehicle or home.
TMC has been aiming to create automobiles that customers view as “irreplaceable companions”. In a similar connection, Kiboro Mini is a manifestation of the Toyota Heart Project, which aims to develop a distinctly human-like interaction between man and machine in a format different from automobiles, based on the same fundamental concept of “Inspiring the Heart, Inspiring You”, which Toyota applies to its automobile manufacturing.
Kirobo Mini can:
Engage in casual conversation, backed by gestures and the ability to respond to user emotions It converses while understanding what is being said to it, as well as interprets the facial expressions of the speaker. It adjusts its gestures and tone of voice to match the conversation, and makes communication more meaningful by blinking and looking at the person speaking.
Grow and provide tailored companionship by remembering user preferences and past events
It remembers user likes and dislikes, and shared travels. It is able to gradually adjust its points of conversation to make them more suitable for the user.
Enhance its conversational ability using information from the vehicle and home
Based on information about the vehicle or home obtained through connected services, Kirobo Mini can provide caring comments such as: “That was a long drive. Good job.” or “Welcome home! A warm bath is waiting.”
You can bring Kirobo Mini for a ride in a Toyota i-Road.