Blog with Rob: Meet your new sales clerk, iRobot

We’ve all heard of the use of robotics lately in everything from military applications to delivering pizza. A store in Japan has truly taken the role of robots a step further.  Meet Aiko Chihira, a humanoid robot working as a greeter at Tokyo’s Mitsukoshi department store.  She’s incredibly life-like and is programmed to greet and provide audio instructions in Japanese. While she can’t currently engage customers in conversation or answer questions, she’s already a big hit.

If that’s not impressive enough, Nao, a tiny robot working for the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ is already providing customer service. He can offer help on all the bank’s main services in Japanese, assist customers in English and Chinese (as well as speak in 19 other languages) and  can analyze facial expressions and behavior. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute for a robot.

You may have read the recent statistics from Boston Consulting Group predicting that investment in industrial robots will grow 10 percent a year in the world’s 25-biggest export nations through 2025 and cut more than 23% of existing manufacturing jobs.  This means while we are continuing to innovate and improve, there will be more Americans losing jobs and looking for work. They say that everything has a price and innovation and success are no exceptions. Personally I believe that in the next 15 years one of our challenges as a nation will be learning how to balance forward movement in technology with preservation of our workforce. What do you think?

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Rob Basso is a recognized small business expert, successful business owner and entrepreneur.

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