March 20, 2005

The Happy, Healing Side of RFID

naoru-kun.jpgYou may know RFID as the tiny radio signal-emitting chips that will someday rob every aspect of your privacy once Wal-Mart makes sure they're embedded in everything you own. But as the Japanese toy company Bandai shows, there's another, more nurturing side to this emerging technology.

Naoru-kun (NOW-roo-Koon) is an animatronic doll that speaks and understands 150 phrases (in Japanese). When he starts to cough or sneeze, though, he needs your tender loving care: shoot him up with his toy syringe or feed him his toy medicine, and he'll respond appropriately. Each medical gadget has an RFID chip embedded in it, which Naoru-kun differentiates.

[For Japanese trivia buffs, Naoru is a name, but it also can mean "to heal."]

It's sort of a Teddy Ruxpin 3.0 who just needs a fix, man, can't you just give him a hit, one hit?

Naoru-kun went on sale two weeks ago. He's 5,499 yen at Toys R Us Japan. [toysrus.co.jp, via we-make-money-not-art, thanks to DT reader Michael]

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