We stopped by the massive BIC Camera store in Yurakucho this afternoon after a client meeting and had the chance to calibrate the Japanese market interest in some of the latest consumer robot products
Don't let the "Camera" in the consumer electronics chains name fool you. BIC may have started off life as a retail camera peddler, but now, decades latter, it serves up every kind of electronic device from humongous televisions to iPods and iPhones. They even have a section of the second floor devoted to fine wines and rare brands of sake.
And, we're happy to report, they have a large toy section that often features the latest and greatest Japanese and imported robot toys. At the moment (fame is fleeting, as we all know) the new Takara TOMY MicroPets-i robots have a huge, and extremely cute, display attracting considerable attention from store customers.
One thing that occurred to us after watching the robot display and customers reactions was that the MicroPets-i are not meant to be solitary. Sure, you can play with just one by itself and have some fun. But, there's definitely a multiplication factor that quickly comes into play when several of the robots and their owners gather together.
They interact with other robots, sing (howl?) together, and owners can even stage micro-contests. We're not sure yet what the optimum number will turn out to be, but we're fully prepared to trying to figure it out.