World Hi, Robot: Japan's android pets ease virus isolation
Texas Woman Uses Tortillas to Rescue Dog From Freezing Cold
A grocery store trip turned into a rescue mission for one black Labrador retriever, and it's a good thing Kristin Salinas already had her groceries.Salinas left her house in the brutal weather just to buy the tortillas for a meal, but they ended up coming in handy. Without an owner anywhere to be found, Salinas spent around 30 minutes coaxing a black, medium-sized Labrador retriever mix into her own car to shelter him from the cold. She used the tortillas to get him into the vehicle, and it very well may have saved his life.
Nami Hamaura says she feels less lonely working from home thanks to her singing companion Charlie, one of a new generation of cute and clever Japanese robots whose sales are booming in the pandemic.
Smart home assistants such as Amazon's Alexa have found success worldwide, but tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation.
"I felt my circle became very small," said 23-year-old Hamaura, a recent graduate who has worked almost entirely remotely since April 2020.
Victoria marks five days of zero local cases, restrictions on track to ease
Victoria has recorded its fifth day of zero local coronavirus cases as the state looks to further ease restrictions on Friday. The number of active cases in the state has dropped to 20, with more than 20,000 people being tested in the past 24 hours.There were no new infections detected in hotel quarantine as international flights arriving into Victoria continue to remain paused.LIVE UPDATES: Tiger Woods injured in LA car crashhttps://twitter.com/VicGovDH/status/1364319021588488194Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday said the state was "well placed" to ease restrictions come midnight on Friday.
With socialising limited, life in her first job at a Tokyo trading company was nothing like she had imagined.
So she adopted Charlie, a mug-sized robot with a round head, red nose and flashing bow-tie, who converses with its owner in song.
Yamaha, which makes Charlie, describes it as "more chatty than a pet, but less work than a lover".
"He is there for me to chat with as someone other than family, or friends on social networks, or a boss I needed to produce a report for," Hamaura told AFP.
She is a pre-launch test customer for Charlie, which Yamaha plans to release later this year.
Lady Gaga offers $500k reward after dog walker shot and pets stolen
Lady Gaga is understood to be offering a $500,000 reward for the safe return of two of her beloved dogs after her friend was shot as he was walking them. Ryan Fischer was attacked as he walked the star's French bulldogs Koji, Miss Asia and Gustav in West Hollywood on Wednesday evening.Two of Lady Gaga's dogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen, while Miss Asia was able to get away and was later recovered.Mr Fischer survived the attack and is believed to be recovering well.The singer, real name Stefani Germanotta, is understood to be offering a $500,000 (£353,000) reward to try and get her pets back.
"Charlie, tell me something interesting," she asks while typing at her dining table.
"Well, well... balloons burst when you spray lemon juice!" he replies, cheerfully tilting his head to each side.
- 'Every object has a soul' -
Sharp said sales of its small humanoid Robohon were up 30 percent in the three months to September 2020 compared with a year earlier.
"Not only families with children, but also seniors in their 60s and 70s" are snapping up Robohon, which talks, dances and is also a working phone, a Sharp spokesman told AFP.
But the adorable android -- first released in 2016 and only available in Japan -- does not come cheap, with regular models priced between $820 and $2,250.
Why Lady Gaga’s Dognapping Has Stumped Pet Detectives
Jamie Katz has seen a lot in her seven years as a pet detective. She had one case of a man who was walking his dog at 5 a.m. when “a car pulled up and just, like, four to five people got out and started beating the hell out of him.” The assailants kicked the dog during the attack, prompting it to run away. In another case, a client had their French Bulldog stolen from its crate in their home, along with $10,000 in cash. But even she wasShe had one case of a man who was walking his dog at 5 a.m. when “a car pulled up and just, like, four to five people got out and started beating the hell out of him.” The assailants kicked the dog during the attack, prompting it to run away.
Charlie and Robohon are part of a new wave of robot companions pioneered by firms such as Sony with its robot dog Aibo, on sale since 1999, and SoftBank's friendly Pepper, which hit shelves in 2015.
"Many Japanese people accept the idea that every object has a soul," said Shunsuke Aoki, CEO of robot firm Yukai Engineering.
"They want a robot to have a character, like a friend, family or a pet -- not a mechanical function like a dishwasher."
Yukai's robots include Qoobo, a fluffy pillow with a mechanical tail that wiggles like a real pet.
They will soon release their latest home assistant "Bocco emo", which looks like a miniature snowman and allows families to leave and send voice messages through their phones.
Kaori Takahashi, 32, bought a Yukai robot-building kit for her six-year-old son to keep him occupied during the pandemic.
Robots feel normal in everyday life because they are in so many Japanese children's films and cartoons, she said.
Australian White sheep breed grows in popularity, surprising farmer who bought it by mistake
A saleyard mistake is paying back dividends for a farmer in lucrative market in specialist sheep breed, Australian White.The Australian White is a breed of Australian meat sheep originally developed for Australian conditions and growing rapidly in popularity.
"I grew up watching anime shows 'The Astro Boy Essays' and 'Doraemon', which both feature robots, and my children love them too."
- 'Heartwarming feeling' -
Studies have shown that therapeutic robot pets designed in Japan, such as fluffy mechanical seals, can bring comfort to dementia patients.
But the makers of Lovot -- a robot the size of a small toddler, with big round eyes and penguin-like wings that flutter up and down -- think everyone can benefit from a bot that just wants to be loved.
It has more than 50 sensors and an internal heating system, making it warm to touch, which it reacts to with squeaks of joy.
Manufacturer Groove X said monthly sales shot up more than tenfold after the coronavirus hit Japan.
A single Lovot costs around $2,800, plus fees for maintenance and software -- but those without deep pockets can visit the "Lovot Cafe" near Tokyo instead.
One customer there, 64-year-old Yoshiko Nakagawa, called out to one of the robots fondly by name, as if to a grandson.
During Japan's virus state of emergency, the capital became "stark and empty", she said.
"We need time to heal ourselves after this bleak period. If I had one of these babies at home, the heartwarming feeling would probably do the trick."
Japan steps up COVID testing, but some say more effort needed .
During pandemic’s course, Japan performed about 60 tests per 1,000 people, compared with 130 in S Korea and 1,000 in US.Some 300 people walking in the city and another 300 at local schools were given saliva-based PCR or polymerase chain reaction tests.