Poor Lonely Robot
The Aqua City shopping complex in Tokyo's Odaiba district has to be one of the most confusing and poorly laid out buildings we've ever encountered, so it would seem to be a natural fit for an 'information' robot to give directions, point customers to the appropriate shops, and provide general security. Sure enough, we found this robot on the 3rd floor, but unfortunately no one seemed to be using it, or even aware that it could help them.
Part of the problem was probably the robots' general design - it looks more like a floor cleaner than a helpful assistant. The LCD touch panel in its chest was hard to read and positioned too low for most people except for very short children, and there was no sign indicating why it was there to begin with. The menu system wasn't very well thought out either. If you already knew the name of the shop you wanted and which floor it was located on, you might have a decent chance of finding it using the robot's information. Most people just ignored the robot completely and asked staff in the area for directions.
It was obviously a 1st generation attempt - a robot designed by engineers for use by engineers without much, if any, understanding of the typical customer. But, the designs, and the robots, will get better and much easier to use generation by generation.
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