I (Do), Robot: Japan's techno wedding 'priest'
Theme weddings are nothing new -- people have been getting married en masse, underwater, and even while skydiving for years now. But Japan has once again taken a concept to the next level with a little push from technology -- in what is believed to be the world's first wedding ceremony officiated entirely by a robot.
The four-foot tall wedding-machine, called the I-Fairy, takes the form of a seated, vaguely feminine humanoid sporting a head adorned with flowers. In spite of being made of metal and plastic, the overall effect is closer to Hello Kitty than The Terminator -- not surprising, since it was built by Kokoro, a subsidiary of Sanrio, the company that created the famed cute cat character.
A robo-power couple
Tomohiro and Satoko Shibata were a natural choice for the wedding, which took place in a rooftop garden restaurant in Tokyo's Hibiya area. Tomohiro is an associate professor in the Theoretical Life-Science Lab at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology, and his bride just happens to work at Kokoro, the company that produced the robot. For her part, Satoko was more than satisfied with the decision to put her wedding in the hands of her company's android, declaring in an interview with the Japanese website Robonable: "I hope our actions set a precedent for helping robots spread through Japanese society."
The man behind the curtain
Although I-Fairy has a certain degree of autonomy, to ensure a smooth ceremony it is operated by an individual sitting at a keyboard discreetly out of sight of the participants. It is pre-programmed with a variety of actions that it carries out script-like during the proceedings. For those interested in running robot wedding ceremonies themselves, Kokoro is selling I-Fairy units for ¥6.3 million (US$68,000). A total of five have been produced, with two sold so far.