Meet Aiko Chihira, the robotic humanoid who’s greeting shoppers in Japan

japanese department store humanoid robot hkg101038092 994818baff2bdae5389081248a07848f nbcnews ux 1160 900
Just in case your shopping trips weren’t exciting enough, Tokyo’s Mitsukoshi department store is bringing a new touch to your retail experience. Meet Aiko Chihira, the humanoid robot that began greeting shoppers on Monday.

Dressed in a traditional Kimono and fashioned with fair skin and reddish died hair, Chihira blinks, give shoppers directions throughout the store, and makes short conversation based on pre-programmed scripts. Chihira moves her lips when she talks and has uncanny facial expressions powered by 43 motors, reports Reuters.

Aiko was developed by Toshiba in partnership with Osaka University Intelligent Robotics Laboratory. This humanoid robot isn’t something new, and it won’t be the last one we see either. However, it seems the hope for this robot is not so much function, but rather publicity. She can’t answer direct questions, and when the conversation goes off script, the limits of her robotic nature are revealed. Regardless, the humanoid is drawing in customers, but mainly because she will only be on display for a short window from April 20 to May 5.

The store marketing manager Gakudai Nanba said, “We hope the robot will spark conversation between people … I’m hoping this will become something that would spark a giggle or two.”

Speaking with Reuters, Hitoshi Tokuda, Toshiba’s business development division group manager said, “It would be good if we can have her provide guidance, or recommend various things in Chinese … We are aiming to develop a robot that can gradually do what a human does, the standard of customer service in this Mitsukoshi flagship store is top quality and this is a great opportunity to see what role our humanoid can play in this kind of environment.”

Aiko is not yet programmed to respond to customers requests, and it seems she is mostly song and dance, but not a lot of help. Nonetheless, customers seem pretty impressed with her so far.

Emerging Tech

SpaceX is on a hiring spree for its Starlink global internet project

After a string of delays, SpaceX's Starlink project was finally launched last month. Now an analysis of data from SpaceX's job listings shows the company is on a hiring tear, advertising for more and more positions for the project.
Movies & TV

Prime-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite TV series currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Skip the sunshine this summer and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (June 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Ready to roll: Mars 2020 rover fitted with wheels ahead of mission next year

The Mars 2020 rover is getting ready for its trip to the red planet next year. The latest step in readying the rover is installing its wheels and suspension system, which engineers at NASA have been doing this month.
Emerging Tech

Want to work in the stars? Here are six future space jobs you could hold

Ever dreamed of leaving Earth to work in the stars? Here's a list of job titles that might sound like science fiction now, but almost certainly won’t a decade or two in the future.
Emerging Tech

You can help search for aliens with an open access release of SETI data

The Breakthrough Initiatives, a program to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, recently analyzed its first three years of radio telescope data. And all of the data collected is being made publicly available in an open data archive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The U.K.’s biggest (and only) asteroid mining company has designs on our skies

Is the founder and CEO of the U.K.'s Asteroid Mining Corporation going to be among the first people to strike it rich in space, or is he just chasing an ambitious but doomed mirage?
Emerging Tech

Tiny galaxy has huge black hole at its center, gives clues to galactic evolution

A Hubble image shows a tiny galaxy which could hold the clue to unraveling a longstanding question about the evolution of galaxies. Despite its small size, it hosts a feature found in much larger galaxies -- a supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Dark matter galaxy crashed into the Milky Way, causing the ripples in its disk

New research suggests hundreds of million of years ago, the Milky Way collided with Antlia 2, a nearby dwarf galaxy dominated by dark matter. The collision caused ripples in the disk of gas around the Milky Way which we still observe today.
Emerging Tech

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

New images reveal the rings around Uranus, which are almost invisible to most telescopes. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy is working on making its fleet invisible to computerized surveillance

The U.S. Navy’s ever-innovative Office of Naval Research is working on a way to turn the United States military fleet invisible. Well, to cutting-edge image-recognition systems, at least.