Hi, Robot: Japan's android pets ease virus isolation

Nami Hamaura says she feels less lonely working from home thanks to her singing companion Charlie, one of a new generation of cute and clever Japanese robots whose sales are booming in the pandemic. Smart home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa have found success worldwide, but tech firms in Japan are reporting huge demand for more humanlike alternatives, as people seek solace during coronavirus isolation. “I felt my circle became very small,” said 23-year-old Hamaura, a recent graduate who has worked almost entirely remotely since April 2020. With socialising limited, life in her first job at …

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