by Douglas Black, enerficiency, October 17, 2012
Well we could see this coming. You can talk to your customer service rep face to face – SURE – a screen face! What do you want to bet that some will be programmed to bat their eyelashes, give that empathetic shake of the head, raise brow and say “I understand your frustration, I really do.”
Future Robot has unveiled a new service robot called FURO-K that will function as a friendly kiosk. The company claims that people often prefer to wait in line to speak with a human employee rather than using an intimidating kiosk, so it has been designed to look cute and inviting. Furthermore, instead of sitting in a corner, the robot scoots around greeting customers in a synthesized voice to explain its features.
The robot comes with an integrated circuit card (ICC) reader, and near field communication (NFC) for non-contact data transactions. If you’re old-fashioned it will also accept credit card payments and can print you a receipt. The company has already sold the robot to major hospitals in Korea and will begin providing services this month.
However, the real story is a recent purchase order from Brazil for one hundred FURO robots. That version of the robot has an anime-inspired female face and can function as a waitress. The plan is to deploy the robots as mobile advertisement and information kiosks at various Brazilian venues, such as airports and malls. The company has also sold units to Japan, China, and France.
“The key strength of Future Robot, in my opinion, is its human-robot interaction technology which is compatible with all other robots. As Steve Jobs ushered in a new smart society with the convergence of art and technology, I hope that Future Robot will pioneer the new robot age with the convergence of robots and technology.” said Future Robot’s CEO, Se-kyong Song, who started the company following stints at Samsung and Philips robot research labs after graduating from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).