MJI’s Makes a Return to CES 2018 with Tapia, the World’s Friendliest AI Robot Companion

Jan 04, 2018


Tokyo robotics company MJI will showcase Tapia, a personal AI robot companion, at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to MJI Vice President Donovan Yeh, Tapia is meant to be more than a machine or tool; rather, the robot is meant to be a companion to people in their daily lives. 

Established in July 2015, MJI’s initially sought to develop a robot assistant that would be useful for seniors, specifically those who might have difficulty using smartphones. The result of their efforts was Tapia, a lightweight, portable talking robot with a bright personality. Configured like a small, sleek egg with cartoon eyes, the device’s cute, helpful presence makes owners happy to have it in their homes.

Tapia has face and voice recognition, so it recognizes its owner. Yeh noted that with Japan’s aging population, there are many elderly people who live alone and are in need of daily interactions. “Tapia in their residence will talk to them and read the news and weather aloud. Tapia will listen to them and play music when they are cleaning or doing other activities,” said Yeh.

Tapia can also make calls and set up video chats with family and friends. In addition to being a media player, Tapia can take photos and record video, and then send it to whomever the owner chooses through vocal commands. This feature is especially valuable for seniors that want to keep touch with distant relatives and have their call and photographs easily accessible.

In addition to connecting users with the outside world, Tapia also handles day-to-day tasks for people. Customized Tapia can order items online, help find missing items using its shape and color recognition capabilities, and even track the sleep patterns of its owner. Via voice-activated remote control, it handles ‘smart home' functions like controlling the TV, lights and AC. The device also monitors medical devices, so users can stay on top of their vital signs or have that data relayed to their loved ones.

Although Tapia was initially marketed towards seniors, its audience has rapidly expanded since its release on the market. After the initial launch, many businesses contacted MJI to request customized functions for the robot. As a result, Tapia is now available for businesses in addition to individuals. Tapia is now used in service and retail locations, including hospitals and hotels. Maihama Tokyo Bay Henna Hotel installed a Tapia unit in every room to act as a personalized concierge for guests. Tapia offers them news, weather updates, directions, and a variety of other customized information.

At CES 2018, MJI will highlight Tapia’s newest features: 1) its ‘action-detection’ technology that allows it to detect bullying or harmful behavior between individuals, such as punching or kicking, and report it to supervisors or security personnel, and 2) its ability to monitor items using an IoT camera to make helpful decisions. For example, the camera can watch a baby’s sleeping position to detect if the position is potentially harmful its breathing and notify a parent if necessary.

At CES 2018, MJI will showcase the newer, more compact model, which has expanded CPU and storage. Yeh says MJI’s main goal at CES next month is to find local partners, such as software developers. Yeh adds that they are especially interested in finding partners in language software.


For more information on MJI and Tapia, visit: https://mjirobotics.co.jp/en/