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By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

April 21, 2015 | 2 min read

Toshiba has enlisted one of its life-like robots to meet and greet visitors of the Mitsukoshi department store in Nihonbashi, Japan, both generating consumer buzz and upping the tech credentials of the outlet.

The model, entitled Aiko Chihira, was dressed in a kimono and greeted shoppers at the entrance of the department store, capable of communicating in many ways including Chinese and sign language.

Hitoshi Tokuda, Toshiba business development division group manager, told Reuters: “It would be good if we can have her provide guidance, or recommend various things in Chinese.

"We are aiming to develop a robot that can gradually do what a human does, the standard of customer service in this Mitsukoshi flagship store is top quality and this is a great opportunity to see what role our humanoid can play in this kind of environment.”

During its launch on Monday, Chihira performed with Japanese opera singer Shoko Iwashita, an impressive feat; although Reuters reports it is likely the robot was lip-syncing.

As yet, Chihira is not yet programmed to respond to customer service questions but Toshiba has stated that such a feature could be coming in the future, in a move which could change the face of retail.

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