Next time you check out that robot mannequin in a Tokyo department store window, don't be surprised if the mannequin is checking YOU out at the same time. "Palette", a robot mannequin, senses admiring shoppers and poses to please!
Why animate a mannequin in the first place? Explains Tatsuya Matsui, chief robot designer and the boss of Flower Robotics, "It makes the product the mannequin wears look more attractive, increasing consumers' appetite to buy." Flower Robotics is the Japanese company behind Palette and its shorter upper torso jewelry-modeling cousin called, naturally, UT.
Both Palette and Palette UT use motion-capture technology to copy the way fashion models move and then replay those motions while on display - but only if the sensors indicate shoppers are close by. On a slightly more sinister note, Flower Robotics is planning a more sophisticated program that will enable Palette to judge shoppers' age and sex; even recognize the logos on their shopping bags. The collected info will be recorded for the use of the store's marketing department.
If you're wondering why these mechanized mannequins look so, well, mechanical, Flower Robotics designed them that way for a reason. According to Matsui, Palette has no face because "consumer attention would be diverted to the face if there were one." Makes sense - keep potential buyers focused on the clothes or jewelry as that's what for sale.
Speaking of "sale", Flower Robotics android models have been appearing in Japanese clothing and jewelry stores for some time now but the company has now begun offered them for sale or rent. Don't go breaking your piggy bank though; Palette costs about $3,000 to rent and around $50,000 to own. Hasta la vista, baby! (via Crunchgear, CScout Japan and We Make Money Not Art. Final image via Tokyo Times)