Fujitsu's ENON robot has a camera and face recognition software that allows it to estimate the age and gender of the person to whom it is talking.
So far so good.
However, it is now programmed to interact with customers in malls, talking them into going into stores. It can even choose between a male voice and a female voice, to appeal to individual customers.
(ENON robot with sales upgrade cajoling mall denizens)
Fans of Philip K. Dick have been waiting for these bots since the publication of his short story Sales Pitch in 1954. Here's what it will be like with robot salesmen everywhere you go:
Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling. One started after him and he quickened his pace. It scurried along, chanting its pitch and trying to attract his attention, all the way up the hill to his living-unit. It didn't give up until he stooped over, snatched up a rock, and hurled it futilely. He scrambled in the house and slammed the doorlock after him. The robot hesitated, then turned and raced after a woman with an armload of packages toiling up the hill. She tried vainly to elude it, without success.
(Read more about sales robots)