TOKYO -- Seeing an opportunity for talking robots in elderly care, education and retail services, TIS took a stake in a startup whose robot is touted as recognizing the different individuals it converses with.
The Japanese system integrator on Tuesday announced it invested in Unirobot, whose Unibo "next-generation social" robot is designed to carry on personalized conversations with human users by recognizing individuals through facial characteristics as well as conversation content, thanks to a proprietary artificial intelligence algorithm.
The investment amounts to several tens of millions of yen (several hundreds of thousands of dollars), according to sources.
Shibuya, Tokyo-based Unirobot, established in 2014.
The 32cm-tall robot has a touch-screen panel that doubles as its face; its eyes express emotion as it converses with users. Equipped with a microphone and camera, it can recognize a user through facial and voice characteristics and carry on a conversation tailored to the individual's tastes.
Unirobot's artificial intelligence system enables the robot to ask multiple questions, link answers to individuals and store the responses in the cloud. In this way, the robot "remembers" personal details, interests, likes and dislikes.
Using the knowledge, the robot can steer a conversation in a way that suits his partner.
The robot also has an emotion analysis algorithm that allows it to recognize whether a user is sad or happy just by talking.
TIS hopes to develop new Unibo services. One possibility is having Unibo play the role of a jukebox and play a music video by the user's favorite artist that the robot will have learned through conversation.