Japan has been struggling with the issue of a declining population for a while now. Most couples are uninterested in having children and in order to curb that trend, another trend of developing robot babies is emerging.
The idea may seem absurd but understanding just how bad japan’s population problem is could help us understand the importance of robot babies. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, people who are in the 70 plus age range will make up double the number of the entire population. That means that those aged 15 to 30 will just be 1 in every 3 Japanese citizens.
A number of factors are to blame for this not so common problem which includes a higher number of unmarried women, a lack of immigration to the country and so-called ‘parasite singles’.
Japan’s robot babies come in different design types. Some are robots that mimic or represent the behavior of a baby, others are robots made to look like real-life babies.
Toyota engineers recently brought out Kirobo Mini, which aims to elicit an emotional response in humans, it does not look like a baby but it does model some baby characteristics like adopting a high-pitched voice and shaky movements.
Another of japan’s robot babies design is called Yotaro, a robotic baby simulator that uses projection technology. This technology enables it to simulate emotions and expressions. It can also model reaction to touch, mood, and even illness through a built-in runny nose.
Besides the aim to encourage couples to have babies, researchers are also aiming to prepare young couples for the longer term needs of a child as it grows. For this reason, robots have also been developed to represent children in a range of age groups.
It is still a big unknown just how much a robot baby can actually encourage population growth but the trend does provide valuable research on how to combat the birth rate decline that is becoming more common in some countries.