Driving can be a harrowing experience with babies. Since their car seat is meant to be in the back seat facing backwards, the child is stressed because it’s out of visual contact with their parent. This results in crying, which the driving parent is then unable to deal with without taking their eyes off the road. Even worse is the unsettling feeling a parent gets when their kid is too quiet and they can’t see what’s going on.
This is a problem that carmaker Nissan and baby goods retailer Akachan Honpo set out to tackle together. According to a survey they conducted, over 60 percent of new parents drive alone with their child and over 80 percent complain that they cannot comfort their child when they cry. On top of that, over 90 percent say they worry when they can’t see their child while in the car seat.
That’s why the two companies have teamed up to create Iruyo: The Intelligent Puppet. Iruyo is equipped with an array of sensors and communication devices as well as state-of-the-art adorability.
A lot of research went into all of Iruyo’s details. Its red color was chosen because it was found to be the best at catching a baby’s attention, but subtler pink and white colors were also created. It is also given a simple look with strong contrasts and easy-to-follow movements to keep the baby entertained.
Customization is possible too, like a snazzy hat or glasses.
Iruyo is actually part of a two-robot set, paired with another called Baby Iruyo. Iruyo sits in the backseat facing the child while Baby Iruyo sits near the driver in a cup holder. Baby Iruyo can pick up voice commands like “I’m here,” “Let’s sing a song,” and “Peek-a-boo,” and relay it to Iruyo which will provide a suitable gesture.
At the same time, Iruyo is monitoring the baby’s face and relaying that back to Baby Iruyo which emulates it. This means that if the baby is very quiet, the parent can tell if it’s sleeping or not by checking Baby Iuryo’s eyes.
Studies found that not only were 90 percent of babies preoccupied by Iruyo while in a car seat, but over half showed a general improvement in mood while spending time with the robot. Despite these promising results, unfortunately, Iruyo is only a concept product and there are no plans to release it commercially at this point.
However, they are holding experience sessions, such as one at Nissan headquarters in Yokohama last month and one planned for the Akachan Honpo store in LaLaport Yokohama on February 10-11.
Source, image: Akachan Honpo