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Charlie (チャーリー), also described as an Uta Robo (うたロボ), is a Japanese communication robot developed by Yamaha Corporation utilizing VOCALOID technology to speak and sing. Charlie is able to communicate basic words and phrases through singing when a user speaks to him, such as saying "good morning" and "thank you", in song.  He is capable of answering questions and can "speak" using over 30 different genres of music.
Charlie was released on May 13, 2021.
Charlie was created by and for working women in need of destressing after a long day at work and is made as a companion to help relax and rely on. His concept was to grow up in the course of his life with the user. By singing, the designers hoped that Charlie would enrich the hearts of his users, offering little moments of inspiration as any musical instrument would.
The name "Charlie" is a diminutive of the Germanic given name "Charles", which is ultimately derived from the Proto-Germanic word *karilaz, meaning a little man, young man, or freeholder. It is not actually known why Yamaha chose the name "Charlie", but the meaning of "little man" fits the small and cute nature of the robot.
Charlie has a large round head with beaded eyes and spherical red nose on top of a conical body with round black feet. He has a small bow tie on his "chest" that glows when he speaks. His head and feet are also shown to move as he sings. According to one of Yamaha's articles, the simple structure of combining sphere and cones is reminiscent of Scandinavian wooden toys, with the sizing and shaping of the parts designed "to achieve a balance that can be interpreted as conveying almost any expression, depending on the emotional state of the person looking at it". The subdued coloring is similar to Japanese tin toys or animations from the sixties and seventies, giving him a nostalgic appearance. Charlie's simple expression was to look as though he is asking for something when silent and can match the emotion of any song when he is singing.
Charlie's posture was posed to appear like a child ready to go for a walk. His limited movements within his head and legs gives him an adorable presence that compel people to naturally want to take care of him and talk to him every day.
When designing the robot itself, Yamaha noted that there were some issues that needed resolving. In order to properly dissipate heat, his size needed to increase and heat dissipation holes were added to his base and back, which resulted in him appearing chubby and cute. These holes look as though Charlie was wearing striped pants. The microphone's position and the size of the logo were carefully considered, as the designers didn't want to detract from his cute appearance. There used to be a motion sensor shaped like a sphere that was protruding from the sole of Charlie's foot, but this was reduced and he now has a flat, natural sole shape.
The design of his package was modeled to be like a baby stroller. He was noted to not be packaged with protective film or styrofoam, giving him a baby-like feel.
For more on VOCALOID relationships, see the FAQ.
On October 22, 2020, a recruitment period was announced to begin on October 27 in order to look for "monitors" to beta test the device. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of living in Japan, having access to Wi-Fi with an Android or iOS smart phone and an active Instagram account to monitor. Thirty people would be selected, and after the monitoring period concludes, applicants would be offered a commercial version of the Charlie robot. It was announced that Charlie was expected to release in the spring of 2021.
Pre-orders for Charlie started on March 24, 2021. Charlie is slated for public release on May 13, 2021. Charlie will come bundled with an AC adapter for charging, a quick-start manual, safety precautions and "Charlie Plan" registration information. Charlie requires a monthly subscription plan of ¥490 yen to access all of his features and users will be able to start chatting and connecting to their home wireless LAN and Charlie after subscribing.
An official Instagram account was created for Charlie.
|ココロゆるむ、うたロボ【Charlie】モニター募集中♪ (Short Version)||YouTube|
|ココロゆるむ、うたロボ【Charlie】モニター募集中♪ (Long Version)||YouTube|
|Voice Sample 11/09/2020|
|Voice Sample 11/10/2020|
|Voice Sample 11/12/2020|
|Voice Sample 11/17/2020|
|Voice Sample 11/18/2020|
|Voice Sample 11/24/2020|
|Voice Sample 11/27/2020|
|Voice Sample 12/1/2020|
|Voice Sample 12/4/2020|
|Voice Sample 12/25/2020|
|Voice Sample 1/2/2021|
|Japanese||Charlie Website Official site for Charlie||Link|
|Japanese||Yamaha Yamaha Press Release about Charlie||Link|
|Japanese||@charlie_yamaha_official Official Instagram of Charlie||Link|
|Japanese||Yamaha Charlie Product Page||[ Link]|