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You Say Tomato, I Say "WTF?"
Our friends in the Land of the Rising Sun are renowned for building things that make you wonder, "Are
these people totally bonkers?" A good example emerged in February in the form of a tomato-dispensing robot
for feeding marathon runners. Apparently, Japanese runners have moved
beyond cups of water offered by spectators and instead carry along a few
tomatoes to provide nutrition and combat fatigue. The inspired runner,
Shigenori Suzuki is an employee of Kagome Co. ( www.kagomeusa.com).
Not so coincidentally, Kagome has been cultivating and selling
tomatoes since 1899, and is Japan's largest supplier of ketchup and tomato
juice. After a rushed collaboration with Maiwa Denki (a toy and musical
instrument design studio), Suzuki and Kagome were ready to introduce
Tomatan: the world's first "wearable tomato."
According to the company, " ... tomatoes contain nutrients, not only
citric acid and amino acid which are good for alleviating fatigue, but also
they contain lycopene, which works effectively to reduce active oxygen
increased through exercising."
In operation, all the runner has to do is flip a switch, and the robot
picks a tomato from its supply, swings its arms around the runner's head,
and places the fruit where he can take a nice juicy bite out of it, hands free.
On the surface, it sounds like a pretty clever idea. Then again, how
many runners would want to carry around something that weighs more
than 17 lb ( 7. 7 kg)? Just a suggestion, but wouldn't a $2.99 fanny pack
from Dollar General do the job? SV
Shigenoir Suzuki being refreshed by Tomatan.
SERVO 05.2015 9
And Your Little Dog, Too
Back in 1999, Sony introduced AIBO — a robotic doglike companion that warmed the hearts of some 150,000
owners during its seven year production run. In fact, AIBO
was even inducted into Carnegie Mellon's "Robot Hall of
Fame" in 2006, recognized as "the most sophisticated
product ever offered in the consumer robot marketplace."
In the same year, however, in an effort to return to
profitability, Sony discontinued AIBO sales and, in 2014,
announced that it would no longer provide repairs of
For many owners, this is tragic, as the bots were
capable of developing unique personalities and interacting
with their owners much like real pets. Sadly, they're
wearing out. As many AIBOs wag their tails for the last
time, owners — many of whom are now elderly — are
grieving over the loss.
Bizarre as it might seem, some Japanese temples now
provide emotional support in the form of funerals
designed to assist the bot’s souls in reaching heaven.
Bizarre, maybe, but it's got me wondering how I'll handle
it when my 1956 Waring blender craps out. We've shared
so many margaritas ...
A priest prays for the souls of deceased AIBO bots.