Hello Kitty, the global marketing phenomenon that features a fictional Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow and no mouth, is about to take on a new role … as a talking android.
Sanrio Co., which created Hello Kitty back in 1974, teamed up with communications giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corp. to make a robotic version of the character to communicate with visitors at counters of tourist facilities, stations, nursing care centers and cram schools.
The two companies announced April 21 that the AI kitty cat is scheduled to make its debut on Aug. 18.
Standing 33 centimeters tall and weighing 1.2 kilograms, the robot will come equipped with speech-recognition software developed by NTT so Hello Kitty can answer questions and speak with customers.
By downloading an app, the robotic Hello Kitty can also be used to help children learn how to create computer programs, the companies said.
It will be rented out under a five-year lease contract for a monthly charge of 75,900 yen ($582). Reservations were accepted from April 22.