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Present-hunting parents say domo arigato, Mr. Airboto

Sunday Mainichi (12/16)
Sunday Mainichi (12/16)

Airbots, toy robots that can be sailed like kites, are, er, flying off store shelves as fast as they get there, according to Sunday Mainichi (12/16).

Airbots are palm-sized humanoid robots with propellers attached by a cable to a controller.

And their sellers hope the flying robots will actively encourage kids to communicate instead of withdrawing into themselves and shutting off the rest of the world as they become mesmerized by hand-held computer games.

The Airbots' controller, which is nothing more than a power supply regulator, is held in one hand and maneuvered to send the robot skyward, while movements are manipulated by the other hand wriggling the cable.

Airbots can be made to take off and land, hover and move in pretty much any direction the user chooses, provided they've had a bit of practice to nut out the right way to work them.

"We thought it'd be really cool to have robots fly instead of normal flying remote control toys like helicopters or airplanes," Nobuyuki Ono, a representative from Airbots seller WizLand, tells Sunday Mainichi. "Once we'd worked out the how to make them stable in the air, we worked out to make them as light as possible and polished it all off with a wonderful design."

Retailing at just 2,992 yen apiece, Airbots have proved a popular choice for families buying sets of them.

WizLand's Ono is pleased by the trend, saying that Airbots are serving a purpose far greater than mere momentary pleasure.

"Recently, with portable game devices and the like, most kids have been turning their faces downward the whole time they've been at play," he tells Sunday Mainichi. "We wanted to get people looking up. If you're facing upward, it's possible to keep playing at the same time as you're communicating with someone else." (By Ryann Connell)

(Mainichi Japan) December 19, 2007


WaiWai stories are transcriptions of articles that originally appeared in Japanese language publications. The Mainichi Daily News cannot be held responsible for the contents of the original articles, nor does it guarantee their accuracy. Views expressed in the WaiWai column are not necessarily those held by the Mainichi Daily News or the Mainichi Newspapers Co. WaiWai © Mainichi Newspapers Co. 1989-2007.

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