NEC Starts Seeking Partners for Robot-based Services

Nov 12, 2013
Tomohisa Takei, Nikkei Electronics
The newly-developed "PaPeRo petit" communication robot
The newly-developed "PaPeRo petit" communication robot
[Click to enlarge image]

NEC Corp announced the "PaPeRo Partner Program" for providing services using a robot and cloud computing system and started looking for partner companies Nov 11, 2013.

NEC will develop and provide services such as keeping an eye on an elderly person and supporting daily activities at home by using a newly-developed robot called "PaPeRo petit" in cooperation with partner companies. NEC aims to achieve sales of ¥10 billion (approx US$100.5 million) in the next three years.

For the PaPeRo Partner Program, NEC developed (1) the PaPeRo petit, which was made by reducing the size of the "PaPeRo R500" communication robot, and (2) a cloud computing system for providing services using the PaPeRo petit. The company will offer an API (application programming interface) for using the PaPeRo petit and cloud computing system to its partner companies.

The PaPeRo petit recognizes a person and speaks while looking at the person. Its height and weight are 240mm and 1.3kg, respectively. NEC realized the small size and limited the number of its functions so that it can be easily used at home or stores.

The robot is equipped with a camera, microphone, human detection sensor, speaker, motor that moves its head, etc. It can recognize several tens of words by itself. But a higher information processing capability can be realized by using the cloud computing system. The system is equipped with applications for (1) controlling the robot, (2) recognizing voice and images, (3) managing devices and (4) collecting and storing data.

"For relatively simple services, we are considering setting fees lower than ¥10,000 (approx US$100.8) per month," said Takemi Hosaka, executive officer of NEC.

The company aims to have about 100 partners in three years and provide a variety of services using the robot.