Eyes Flashing Robot Conducts Japanese Wedding

The wedding took place at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo, where the “I-Fairy”, a 4-foot (1.5-meter) tall seated robot with flashing eyes and plastic pigtails wore a wreath of flowers and directed a rooftop ceremony.

I-Fairy, a four foot robot, wore a wreath of flowers and directed the rooftop ceremony at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo Photo: REUTERS

The wedding took place at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo, where the “I-Fairy”, a 4-foot (1.5-meter) tall seated robot with flashing eyes and plastic pigtails wore a wreath of flowers and directed a rooftop ceremony.

Wires led out from beneath it to a black curtain a few feet away, where a man crouched and clicked commands into a computer.

Sunday’s wedding is being billed as the first ever wedding presided over by a robot, a fitting marriage for the couple who met through the machines.

The bride, Inoue, works for the company that makes the i-Fairy, and her husband, Shibata, is a client.

“It’s true that robots are what caused us to first begin going out, and as suggested by my wife, we decided that we wanted to try this sort of wedding,” Shibata said after making his vows.

Japan has one of the most advanced robotics industries in the world, with the government actively supporting the field for future growth. Industrial models in factories are now standard, but recently Japanese companies are making a push to inject robots into everyday life.

“Please lift the bride’s veil,” the robot said in a tinny voice, waving its arms in the air as the newlyweds kissed in front of about 50 guests.

I-Fairy, a four foot robot, wore a wreath of flowers and directed the rooftop ceremony at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo Photo: REUTERS

Honda makes a walking child-shaped robot, and other firms have developed them to entertain the elderly or play baseball. Kokoro, whose corporate goal is to “touch the hearts of the people,” also makes giant dinosaur robots for exhibitions and lifelike android models that can smile and laugh. The company is a subsidiary of Sanrio Co., which owns the rights to Hello Kitty and other Japanese characters.

“This was a lot of fun. I think that Japanese have a strong sense that robots are our friends. Those in the robot industry mostly understand this, but people mainly want robots near them that serve some purpose,” said bride Satoko Inoue, 36, who works at manufacturer Kokoro.

“It would be nice if the robot was a bit more clever, but she is very good at expressing herself,” said new husband Tomohiro Shibata, 42, a professor of robotics at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in central Japan.

I-Fairy, a four foot robot, wore a wreath of flowers and directed the rooftop ceremony at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo Photo: REUTERS

The I-Fairy sells for about 6.3 million yen ($68,000) and three are in use in Singapore, the U.S. and Japan, according to company spokeswoman Kayako Kido. It has 18 degrees of motion in its arms, and mainly repeats preprogrammed movements and sounds.

It is also one of the world’s fastest ageing societies and experts say robots can help care for the growing number of elderly, and fill in for the lack of young people willing to take on jobs as chefs, cleaners or caretakers.[via Daily Telegraph (UK)]

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