Toyota Unleashes Kirobo, A Doll With The Brains Of A Five Year Old


A week ago, I was invited to a hush-hush press conference of Toyota. A short stroll from Tokyo’s Ikebukuro station, the presser was held in a building that formerly housed a Toyota showroom, now it is home to parts of Toyota’s sprawling Japanese sales organization. It was a huge press conference, and all attendants were sworn to strict secrecy until today. Now I am able to tell you: At the presser, Toyota announced the not quite immediate availability of a doll.

The Japanese automotive juggernaut “plans to launch sales of its compact and cuddlesome Kirobo Mini communication partner,” the company said. For 39,800 yen (around $400, plus tax) I may be able to own the doll late this year, if I get in on-line at a presales-campaign “at designated dealers in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture this winter.” If all goes well, Kirobo-san may be available nationwide in Japan some time next year.

Kirobo is made from plastic surrounding a lot of electronics, produced by the Vaio Corporation, a 2014 spin-off from Sony that sold its PC division to a private equity fund after a long stretch to losses, partially because more than a few consumers were convinced that Vaio computers were beset by the infamous “Sony timer” that would cause the gadget go belly-up a week after the warranty runs out. The new Vaio Corp. wants to focus on market niches, and apparently, it hopes that Toyota’s doll is one of them.

Read the rest on the Forbes Website

Oct 19th, 2016