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Robot Takes Music Where You Want to Hear It (December 15, 2006)

The robot can play a particular track at a set time. (c) 2006 ZMP INC.
There is now a robot that will come over to you and play music with just the push of a button on a remote control. ZMP Inc., a startup company that develops and sells humanoid robots, released the "miuro" in December 2006. It is the first such product capable of autonomous movement to go on sale anywhere in the world.

Mobile-Phone Controlled
The small robot "miuro," which contains a music player, is essentially a moving stereo. It measures 35 cm across and 22 cm high, it weighs 5 kg, and it moves on two wheels. Priced at an affordable ¥108,800 ($907 at ¥120 to the dollar), with the purchase of an add-on package for ¥19,800 ($165) users with a computer and wireless LAN can enjoy having the robot autonomously navigate their house using onboard cameras and sensors, finding its own way to the living room and other preprogrammed locations. For example, it could be used in place of an alarm clock, moving into your bedroom and waking you up with the song of your choice in the morning.

Miuro blends into your living room. (c) 2006 ZMP INC.

The miuro uses a lithium battery that allows up to four hours of use on a single two-hour charge. It is operated by means of an infrared remote control, but it is also possible to give it instructions using a mobile phone. Using the remote control, the user can select and play music taken from an mp3 player, a computer, or Internet radio. On top of that, when users are away, they can keep tabs on what is happening at home by instructing the miuro go to a preprogrammed location, take a photo, and email it to them.

A yellow miuro. (c) 2006 ZMP INC.

An Integral Part of Life
Industrial robots account for most of Japan's robot market at present. When Sony Corp. released the dog-like robot AIBO in 1999 for home use, sales were not as good as expected, and the company later halted production. Robots that feature human-like intelligence and those that can walk on two legs are still in the development stages, and those that are available remain too expensive for ordinary consumers to purchase.

The miuro, however, is priced affordably enough for most households. A company spokesperson explains: "Robots had previously attracted attention just for being able to move. What we're trying to do is make this kind of robot a part of everyday life, showing people a new kind of lifestyle."

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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