If you happen to be shopping in Japan sometime soon, don't be surprised if the first offer of help comes from a machine. Toshiba has just installed Aiko Chihira, a humanoid greeter robot, at Tokyo's Mitsukoshi department store. The kimono-clad automaton will guide you around the shop while it blinks and smiles -- at once helpful and, as you can see above, a little creepy. It can't respond to questions yet (don't yell at it over a faulty product), but it's capable of handling both spoken and signed languages. No, Aiko isn't as interactive or relentlessly adorable as SoftBank's Pepper, but it'll be a big time-saver if it prevents you from getting lost in the aisles.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]