Case Study Honda’s ASiMO
Meet ASIMO! He is 4 feet tall, with a pleasant childish voice, and the ability to recognize
and interact with people; however, ASIMO is no child. He is the humanoid robot “brainchild” of scientists at Honda. ASIMO’s technology includes two camera eyes to map its environment and recognize unique faces. Its body construction is so humanlike that it can run at 3.5 mph, toss a ball to play with a child, and use its opposable thumbs to open a bottle and serve you a cold drink. ASIMO is the perfect household companion.
Honda has not yet made ASIMO available to purchase for home use but it is only a matter of time until families can have their own humanoid robot. But not everyone is interested. Consumers are a bit nervous about a robot serving them meals or sitting down and telling them the news of the day. Why? Perhaps it is Hollywood’s influence on our perception of robots. It might not be the sweet WALLE that comes to mind when we think about robots, but the Terminator or another threatening machine.
If consumers are not ready for ASIMO, perhaps they are ready for some of its features. Facial Recognition Technology (FRT), the ability for a computer to “read” your face, is seeing strong development and application. According to some analysts, the FRT market is expected to grow from $1.92 billion to $6.5 billion within the next 5 years.
Advertisers and big brands are taking notice of FRT. Imagine a billboard in a mall that advertises Abercrombie to a teen girl and Target to a busy mom. Immersive Labs is one company that has developed digital billboards that measure the age range, gender, and even attention level of a passerby to deliver a tailored ad.
According to researchers, FRT can do more than read your face and estimate general physical characteristics. It can map out a biometric profile that is as unique as your fingerprint. Red Pepper is a company that uses this advanced technology to develop Facedeals, a smartphone app that provides personalized offers to consumers. Here’s how it works. You download the app, walk into a store with a Facedeals camera, and are recognized. Facedeals interfaces with your Facebook information, analyzing your content
for favorite brands, relationship status, places visited, and other information. Then, Facedeals presents you with a personalized offer.
The marketing applications for FRT are numerous. Google is considering letting individuals use a body motion, perhaps a “wink” or “eyebrow movement,” as their FRT password. Forbes.com has unveiled an app where your webcam watches your facial responses when you view ads to learn what products and ads you like and dislike.
Many brands know one key to successful marketing is to offer the right product to the right consumer at the right time. With FRT, marketers can achieve this goal at a whole new level.
Discussion Questions CS 11 What are the most likely market segments for ASIMO? CS 12 How could Honda overcome resistance to the idea of a home robot? CS 13 What concerns might consumers have regarding FRT?