Soon, customers who pop into a select branch of Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ will be greeted by a very special kind of customer service rep – a cute, helpful robot named NAO. Designed by French company Aldebaran Robotics, NAO stands at 58 centimetres tall, can understand and respond to basic customer service queries in 19 languages, and uses cameras to analyse facial expressions and body language.
If you think the existence of robot bank greeters seems futuristic, it might surprise you to learn that the future has been here for a while. NAO actually made its debut in 2006, and has been used primarily in research institutes and in schools, while NAO’s sibling model, Pepper, has already been put to work in a number of Japanese stores.
Aldebaran describes NAO as an “intelligent and friendly companion” whose cuteness and interactivity makes it a great playmate for children. But who are we kidding? No one ever really grows out of wanting a robot sidekick, and for a cool $8000 you can live the dream…or you could just go to Japan and open a bank account.
Sophia Softky is an armchair philosopher and wayward American trying to make her way in Melbourne. Sometimes she writes things, and sometimes they get published. She is a millenial and therefore lives inside of the Internet.