Made in Japan, of course, the ifbot is a prototype AI life unit designed as a companion for the elderly. It talks slowly and clearly, it’s very respectful and it even looks a bit doddery as well with its half closed eyes and I’m-in-a-wheelchair-too look.
The Business Design Laboratory company of Nagoya, Japan, hopes future models will be fully networked and act as internet deterrifiers by offering services like online shopping and news through simple voice commands rather than a mouse and keyboard. For now though, the 17.5″ tall ifbot is limited to 15 activities including calculation, quizes, old songs, old news (olds?), medical checks and being spoken to for hours at a time about the war – seriously. According to the literature, it “loves being talked to by his master”.
Sadly, it’s only programmed in the Japanese language at the moment but I suspect that won’t make any difference to some of the elderly who will simply natter until the thing melts.
I seriously doubt the ifbot will ever make it over here and I’m not sure it’ll have much of a shelf life in Japan either. It won’t be many years before the elderly used to be the fairly internet savy middle aged and they won’t need a bot to tell them how to work Google.
More from CES 2009 here