Saturday, March 17, 2007

All About Tea Robots

TGS has featured several pieces about tea and robots thus far. I thought I might as well gather them all in one place. This is it.

Some of the earliest tea robots - which might not a totally accurate term, in this case - were the Japanese Karakuri. The Wikipedia entry for Karakuri describes them as "mechanized puppets or automata from Japan from the 18th century to 19th century."

From, here's a more in-depth description of the Chahakobi Ningyo, or tea-serving doll, complete with photos and a schematic, of sorts.

From Anthrobot, here's a larger version of the schematic (or you can click the one at the previously mentioned page for a larger version). Which will be even more meaningful for those of you who can read Japanese.

At The Karakuri Corner, you can actually buy your own tea-serving doll. Look here, here and here for more details.

Or check out this Tea Server Robot Kit, from the Jameco Robot Store. They also sell an assembled version.

Here's a link with more information about Karakuri and an account of a visit to a Karakuri craftsman.

Here's an account of a Chinese farmer who's been forced to sell of some of his homemade robots, including at least one that makes or serves tea. Read it here or here.

From CNN, here's a report about a clever humanoid robot developed at the University of Tokyo that can serve tea, among other things. Do you have enough faith in technology to feel comfortable with one of these critters running around the place, brandishing a container of boiling hot water? Not sure if I do.

To the best of my knowledge, there's no such thing as a tea-tasting robot. However, the New Scientist has a report here on one that can "taste" wine. We have the technology...

Image: Jameco Robot Store

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Elaine said...

Caveat on Karakuri Corner:
On October 22, 2007, I did actually order a tea serving doll (assembled) from Karakuri Corner. The charge was made to my credit card, and the statement indicated that the piece had shipped. To date, November 11, 2007, I have not received anything at all, not even a response to my email inquiries. Nada. Zip. Zero response. I tried phoning, and the auto message didn't even indicate that I had reached Karakuri Corner. So, beware before buying. Check to see if anybody is actually there and has product to sell. If I ever do hear from anyone at this company, I'll be happy to retract these comments.

Chris said...

Just like the above poster, I've had a disappointing experience with this store. I ordered a stirling engine back on Nov 1st, 2007. When it didn't ship I emailed them to ask about it, and they said it would ship on Nov 15th, but it didn't. They've since ignored all my emails and now that it's more than a month since I ordered, I've had to contact my credit card company to dispute the charge.

I don't know what's going on with this company, but they're not serving their customers at all these days.

Rebecca said...

NEVER BUY FROM KARAKURI CORNER! They have some of the worst customer service I've ever experienced. It's literally non-existant. Just like the above two posters, this company charged my credit card, and never sent the product.

The charge was posted to my account in November, 2007. In December, I tried to e-mail the company to inquire about the order, and the e-mail bounced back as undeliverable. I tried to call them, and got a message stating that phone number was no longer accepting incoming calls. I went to the website, and it was down.

Now, on December 29th, the website is back up, my e-mail seems to have gone through, and the phone number goes through to a voice mail. We'll see what happens next, but my expectation is: nothing. If I don't hear back soon, I'm going to have to call the credit card company and start the battle to have the charges reversed.

And there goes the perfect Christmas gift for a friend of mine. :(

Rebecca said...

Update: After some minor harassment on my part, I was able to get in touch with the Karakuri Corner guy and he finally sent me my January, a month and a half late, with not even a comment or apology for leaving me hanging.

If you want a tea robot, call or e-mail Karakuri Corner first, just to make sure they're still going to be there when it comes time to ship.