Eat, Drink, and Cuddle with a Robot at Japan’s LOVOT Café
These ultra-cute bots were designed to love you.
Paralleling the ongoing popularity of venues that offer intimate encounters with sexbots, if you’re in the vicinity of Kawasaki, Japan you can also spend quality time with LOVOT, which takes a different approach to artificial companionship.
Because unlike the ones designed for erotic experiences, LOVOT has been carefully engineered, as the company’s site explains, “to be loved by you.”
‘LOVOT will warm your heart.’
LOVOT joins the ranks of robotic companions such as the seal-like Paro, the cat-ish Qoobo, and the puppy-esque Aibo. It was designed to meet the needs of people suffering from loneliness or touch deprivation—notably in its native country, Japan.
And as with the similar robots mentioned above, LOVOT’s designers took a page from nature’s playbook by equipping it with a soft outer covering, expressive eyes, and little flippers, in addition to internal mechanisms allowing it to gesture and move about.
All to make, as its developers also put it, something that “May not be living a creature, but… will warm your heart.”
LOVOT is also equipped with sophisticated software and sensors, including a knob on top of its head that contains the robot’s camera and microphone. Using both, it can be a cute, cuddly security system by wirelessly sending pictures of any unauthorized intruders back to its owner. Or use the same technology to keep a watchful eye on the family pets when no one’s home.
Since LOVOT was built to love, with a flick of a metaphorical switch it’ll keep tabs on the duration and frequency of hugs it receives to help caregivers monitor how effective it is.
All of these features come with a hefty price tag. LOVOT sells for slightly less than JP¥300,000 or about US$2,800. That, plus a monthly subscription fee of JP¥8,980 (around US$83) puts it well out of the financial range of most people.
However, anyone can have the opportunity to get to know one of these adorable robots, have a bite to eat, and enjoy a pleasant beverage if they visit the LOVOT Café in Kawasaki.
A nation of cafés
There’s practically a café for every interest imaginable in Japan: popular themes include cats, rabbits, and maid-cosplay. With the opening of the LOVOT Café, the same is now true for robot fans.
Customers at the LOVOT Café are limited to 70-minute blocks of time per visit. During this time, they can dine on the café’s LOVOT-themed food and interact with their pre-assigned LOVOT.
After enjoying their meal, customers can watch the floor show, where a bunch of LOVOTs frolic together on a small stage.
Every cute thing helps
Cynically, you could say that the LOVOT Café is just another addition to the endless parade of novelty-themed Japanese restaurants.
Or, you could take a much more optimistic attitude, and see it as an attempt to address the serious issue of social isolation.
Considering how cat cafés have become a global phenomenon, this could be a sign of things to come. It may not be long until robot companion cafés are in cities worldwide, to comfort you when you’re feeling lonely.
Image sources: PLAY TOKYO