Monday, June 3, 2013

Really, what DON'T a robot dog and ramen noodles have in common?

What do a Walkman, a robot seal and an automatic squid catcher have in common?
I am surprised you even have to ask.
Fine, I will put you out of your misery. They are all on display in Osaka, Japan as part of a local trade group’s exhibition on Japan’s most successful products. Watch the videobelow.

One of the exhibition's highlights is Aibo, a robot dog that Sony launched in 1999 for $2,500.  Despite the price tag, the first run of 3,000 units sold out in 20 minutes. The Aibo was discontinued in 2006 due to Sony restructuring. Aibo has left quite a legacy, though: the RoboCup Four-Legged League(which, naturally, is robot soccer). What would the world be without it?
Another highlight is Paro, a $6,000 robot baby seal, which like all real baby seals, has a pacifier in its mouth. (Ok, it’s actually a charger.) The therapeutic robot was introduced in 2001 and has been sold commercially since 2004. This crafty seal, which makes sounds like a real baby seal, responds to how people react to it, continuing behavior that garners pets and stopping what gets it hit. It also responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes.
Also on display are Sony’s original Walkman, which went on sale in 1979, and Transformers by Tomy, which have been around for almost 30 years and have inspired mediocre movies for the last 6 years (next one coming out in 2014!).
You'll also find the first pocket LED calculator, which came out in 1973, the world’s first compass chip for cell phones and an automatic squid catcher, which I know has been on my holiday wish list for years.
Finally, we have an electronic rice cooker from Toshiba from 1956 and instant ramen noodles, which first went on sale in 1958 and have since provided college students with sustenance for generations.


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