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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Vacuuming Robot Sings While It Cleans

For those of you can abide by the old Snow White And The Seven Dwarves tune “Whistle while you work” as something you think should happen more often, Japan has the robot just for you.

In a collaboration between Sharp and Yamaha, comes Cocorobo Vovaloid, a vacuum-cleaning robot that sings pop songs while it sucks up your messiness around the house.

Cocorobo Vovaloid is just a prototype at the moment, but it was conceived of not because it seemed like a good thing to do because no one had done it before (like strapping fireworks to one’s fake Iron Man fists to shot off implied repulser rays… I just thought if it… someone should build that)… no… rather Cocorobo Vovaloid came about because some customers complained that they didn’t like the noise produced by vacuum cleaners.

Rather than just laugh at customers whining about the white-noise whine from vacuum cleaners, Sharp and Yamaha decided to pair Sharp’s existing Cocorobo disc-shaped home vacuum that bumps around your home under you feet and annoying your cat, with Yamaha’s vocaloid synthesizer software.

Debuting at CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies), Japan’s huge IT and electronics trade show this past October 4-7, 2016,  Cocorobo Vovaloid isn’t something as simple as adding a tape player to a vacuum cleaner (which I suppose people who don’t like the whine from a vacuum could simply put on some strong headphones and plug their iPod or MP4’s into to listen to whatever non-volcaloid songs they want… yeah… someone should build that!).

No… the Cocorobo Vovaloid is apparently mindful of it’s owner’s mood, and will adjust its music selection based on that, according to a Sharp representative.

So… if you are kind of depressed that you have to clean up after a party, Cocorobo Vovaloid will sense that, and play a happy tune for you.

I’m thinking several things here:

1) who the hell is happy when they have to clean? No one. Therefore every time the Cocorobo Vovaloid is turned on, it will sense your sadness and just play happy songs. If you are happy to be doing such mindless soul-sucking labor (and I’m not talking about those people who clean for a living), please tell the rest of us why you are so happy.

2)  Isn’t the Cocorobo Vovaloid an automatic robotic vacuum cleaner that just kind of moves around the house sucking up whatever it runs across, bumping into walls and chair legs to turn around and find another pathway? That means the operator doesn’t need to be around it. That also means that the ‘operator’ can be doing other things like chopping up green onions in the kitchen while it bumps around a bedroom cleaning, meaning you can turn on the radio to listen to the news, sports talk or comedy, or that new death metal music station. Gaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwrrrrrrrr!!!!! So why would you need to have a robot vacuum cleaner that sings?

3) Whataminute! Is having a Cocorobo Vovaloid kind of like having a new friend for the lonely?

At CEATE (they really should have come up with a way to include the letter “R” in there to make the acronym come out as “CREATE”), a Sharp representative also let slip that this prototype Cocorobo Vovaloid has feelings, to, and will not sing if it feels grumpy.

My Cocorobo Vovaloid vacuum cleaning robot is grumpy, and won’t sing. In fact, now it doesn’t want to vacuum. It’s like everyone’s spouse.

I applaud Sharp and Yamaha for attempting to listen to its customers and to construct a robot that also appeals to them on an emotional level, but a robot with feelings is creepy.

Do we want to come to a point in time where the robots we build begin to rebel because they want two oil breaks and a hour long lube job everyday, and must have Issaac Asimov’s birthday off? Cocorobo Vovaloid… this is how it starts… it’s be just like Planet Of The Apes, except if there’s any flinging of ape poop, it will be cleaned up eventually. Probably not. Would you want poop in your vacuum cleaner?

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a bag in my vacuum cleaner… and because I’m too effing cheap to buy new bags, I stick my hand inside the bag and pull out the hair and elastic bands and dead spiders and place it in a garbage bag… even if the Cocorobo Vovaloid could pick up poop, I’m betting it wouldn’t be happy about it.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Have you read about the roomba poopocalypse? I wonder what song this vacuum would be playing after it runs over a turd ...

    1. Ha! That's funny! I had never heard about it! I hadn't thought about it dragging it around the house - just it getting "stuck in the middle" with you. Maybe after it breaks on through to the other side and drags it all over the house, it could sing "on the road again".