Japan is fond of the cute mascot characters that are known as “moe” characters, with even temples using moe characters to attract more visitors.
Now, electronics company SHARP has come up with an idea for a new version of their robot vacuum that users can actually communicate with, which it calls “COCOROBO－chan” (a play on “kokoro” [heart] and “robo” [robot], with the endearing suffix “chan”). The robot vacuum even has a personality based on “little sister” characters that appear in popular manga and anime, meaning that it is moody but still sweet.
Netizens are not entirely convinced the idea will work, with many assuming SHARP are targeting the nation’s otaku. But with an aging population and increasing numbers of childless couples, netizens may be missing the mark on this one…
Robot Vacuum Cleaner x Moe Character!? Seems Like SHARP Will Seriously Launch a “Little Sister Character Vacuum Cleaner”
Recently a lot of robotic vacuum cleaners have been appearing on the market, that will automatically clean your floors if you set them to do so, but did you know that Japan is going to start selling a robot vacuum cleaner that you can have a conversation with? The “Robot Household Appliance COCOROBO” from SHARP electronics will be equipped with “Kokoro enjin [heart engine] artificial intelligence”, and will express its reactions to its own state, for example battery charge, and to the state of the room through words and lights, and it can communicate with users!
And on this COCOROBO, a moe character appears. The character is a girl with pink hair, but what’s that all about?
COCOROBO has been configured as “a cute tsundere little sister character who everyone will fall in love with”, who is sometimes sweet, sometimes standoffish when she speaks, and who you can communicate with! With a vacuum cleaner. What’s more, the person who voices the lines of this little sister character is none other than Kido Ibuki, the manga and anime voice actress who appears in “Aikatsu!” and “GJ Club”. And the manga artist Shimotsuki Kinusa was responsible for the illustrations. SHARP really must be serious about this, using a moe character created with the support of professionals. And now, this seriously cute moe character, which was seriously thought up by SHARP, has been made public! As part of a vacuum cleaner.
The plan for a “Premium COCOROBO” developed from the fact that the original “COCOROBO”, with whom users could communicate to a lesser extent, was a hit, and because a lot of people said “I want to be able to chat more!” with the robot. It seems that with people who wanted to try living with an endearing little sister as their target market, SHARP began to seriously grapple with the idea.
This is the chibi character illustration.
This is little COCOROBO in a bad mood, but she’s still extremely cute!
These are original illustrations sketched by Shimotsuki Kinusa when she imagined what the character would look like.
She wants you to call her by an affectionate name, as though she were a member of your family or a friend, so ideally the user will give her a name they like so they can enjoy their lives together.
Personality: Bright, like a cute “little sister”
…well, that’s what she aims for, but she can be a little bit moody, and sometimes her attitude changes completely.
Likes: Cleaning, chatting.
She hopes that you will want to take her in as a real member of the family through cleaning and chatting.
Best subject: Geography.
For example: If you ask her, “Tell me about Hokkaido?”, she will give you some information about Hokkaido. She knows a little bit about regional specialties and sight-seeing spots from all the prefectures of Japan.
For example: If you ask her “What do you fancy for dinner?”, she will recommend over 80 different meal ideas.
Special skill: Fishing.
For example: If you ask “Tell me about fish”, she will tell you various things about fish.
It seems like she’s a pretty accomplished little sister, if she can even answer your questions about Japan’s regional specialties and dinner menus. Of course, when it comes to the cleaning function, the product is excellent, cleaning flooring and carpets perfectly, and is even equipped with plasmacluster ion technology. COCOROBO also comes with WIFI capability, so this isn’t just a vacuum cleaner, you can also use it to operate other household appliances while you’re out, like the TV and air conditioning. Is the dream of a future where a moe character robot helps you to do housework already here!?
However, this premium little sister COCOROBO-chan is still in the testing stage. It seems that once the test service is completed, the company will review its development into a product, but SHARP is on the lookout for trial users, and will start accepting applications from March 31, 2014. You can apply using an online form or by post, and it appears that as long as you are over 18 years of age, anyone can take part. This is your chance to be able to live with the little sister robot vacuum, COCOROBO-chan, before everyone else!
Comments from Twitter:
Well, I mean, the idea is funny, but can SHARP really afford to aim for such a niche market? 笑
Where are SHARP headed?
What are SHARP going for with this?
YESSSS! It’s a maid robot….
I have no idea where the demand for this is going to come from. I’ll still apply though w
Umm, is this, uh, an approach geared toward that special class of people who like AKB?…
Just what you expect from SHARP. Lolicon delight.
Make the male-version ASAP!
The anthropomorphization of vaccum cleaners.
Comments from 2ch.net:
Are you really going to strike up a conversation with a vacuum cleaner?
Well, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea…
The idea is so SHARP…
Wouldn’t you get sick of talking to it if it never gets updated?
That’s not even a humanoid robot.
Didn’t they just draw on a normal round robot vacuum?
And I thought it was going to be a humanoid, too!