People Staff of Nagoya, Japan, wants Hello Kitty to greet visitors when they come into an office. Well, at least a robot receptionist modeled after the popular icon. In February of this year, they launched Robot Dispatch, where Japanese companies can rent an electronic receptionist in the shape of characters such as Hello Kitty for only $424 a month. That is one-sixth the cost of People Staff’s human temporary personnel.
“Many Japanese corporations don’t have a person at reception,” Chihiro Yamada, People Staff spokesperson, told CNNMoney.com. “If a company wants to hire a receptionist, we can save them money.”
The robot receptionist, manufactured by Business Design Laboratory, can recognize up to 10 faces, ask visitors to speak their names, and notify them when they are ready to be seen. In addition, it has 20,000 stored conversation patterns, songs and riddles.
This concept seems to be a boon for Japan, where record low birthrates is creating a need for an alternative workforce. However, in the United States, it may not fly. “People don’t like to face machines,” Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at the Society for Human Resource Management, said. “You need a human when you have a problem. Right now, you could not use this on a regular basis.”
However, she concedes that the future may be quite different. “Robotics research could lead to machines that replace humans,” Schramm said. “Especially if the cost benefits are there.”
Better get working on your resume, just in case.