As Japan’s Population Ages, Robots Seen as Workforce Solution

A crowd gathers near the entrance of Tokyo’s upscale Mitsukoshi Department Store, which traces its roots to a kimono shop in the late 17th century, stated cnn.com.

Fitting with the store’s history, the new greeter wears a traditional Japanese kimono while delivering information to the growing crowd, whose expressions vary from amusement to bewilderment, reported cnn.com.

It’s hard to imagine the store’s founders in the late 1600’s could have imagined this kind of employee, stated cnn.com. That’s because the greeter is not a human — it’s a robot.

Aiko Chihira is an android manufactured by Toshiba, designed to look and move like a real person, stated toppix.com. It was put on temporary display at the department store.

Toshiba says Chihira has 43 motors allowing it to move, speak in sign language and even sing, reported cnn.com. The regular greeter, Ayako Seiryu, says she’s not worried about a robot replacing her — even one made to resemble a real 32-year-old woman.

“Pepper” is a humanoid robot that “chats” with customers. A humanoid has human-like characteristics such as arms, legs and a head — but is designed to look like a robot. Pepper first began appearing in Tokyo stores last year, reported newsfirst.lk.

Today’s novelty could be tomorrow’s necessity. Japan has an aging population that has prompted serious talks about how to incorporate robots into the nation’s shrinking workforce, stated newsfirst.lk.