By now many consumers would consider digital maps and smartphone apps essential to the shopping experience, but Japan is making interaction seem more human again with the help of an android called Aiko Chihira.
Aiko is the android made by Toshiba that gained fame as a humanoid that can care for elderly patients, man reception stations, as well as speak and sign. Now, the high-end Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi is using Aiko as a guide to help consumers get around. The bot is programmed to have several friendly facial expressions, bow and provide directions throughout the store. Since Aiko is also versed in sign language, people with hearing impairments can also understand her clearly.
As part of a promotional event for Toshiba, Aiko will only be stationed at the department store for a limited time. However, as androids become more capable and life-like, in the future, robots like Aiko could be a staple in retail shops.