VIDEO: NoodleBot at CEATEC 2013 - Robots & Noodles are Natural Together, Right?
Instant noodles, Top Ramen in particular, are perhaps best known as a symbol of the struggling college student, the underemployed and/or lazy bachelor, or simply the food of last resort - but not in Japan. Here there’s a clear, unabashed romance between Cup Noodles and robots.
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Yeah, Robots & Noodles - Why Not?
How does a food company simultaneously commemorate its 40th anniversary and wrangle the timing into a marketing ploy? Well, come on - that’s easy - with robots, of course. Totally normal. Nothing goofy or out of place with that.
If you agree with the above, there’s a very strong chance that you’re suffering from a kind of cultural vitamin D deficiency, i.e., it might be a good idea to go outside (of Japan) and stand in sun a for a spell. Of course we're talking to us right there.
And speaking of things being overexposed, that’s where the NoodleBot actually had some utility - it was originally a stationary, talking, lights-flashing animatronic noodle timer unleashed two years ago to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of Nissin Foods’ "Cup Noodles" food-like product. The 55 year-old Osaka company is also responsible for the much less food-like export "Top Ramen," well known for generations as a staple of the poor and/or ultra lazy. Their products are global, ubiquitous, almost don't need to be marketed at all.
Anyway, enough with the trivia on the One Noodle to Rule Them All company, while browsing CEATEC 2013, we spied the robot performing at Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) booth; he’s had some iterative improvements, and is now mobile:
Robo-Noodle Romance Not New to Nissin
This isn't Nissin’s only leap into robo-related marketing, they also lured Mobile Suit Gundam fans back in May with the GUNPLA (GUNDAM Plastic Model) array. Clearly the guys at Nissin A. Know good product placement/integration when they see it, and B. Are quite likely a bunch of raging robot dorks (much respect).
Really, it’s not even advertising at this point, it's incentivizing; in Japan everybody knows Nissin, they're in every store - and that’s how they can afford to license and give away free GUNDAM replicas. Something's different here. Imagine if Top Ramen was pushed with GI Joe or Transformers in the U.S. - that'd be weird right? Top Ramen isn't something retailers need to advertise, and consumers would probably prefer to hide it.
Not so in Japan! Robots & noodles are hand in hand, and those replicas above, they’re not holding some high-tech cudgel for smashing bad guys, no, they’re holding kettles. For making either giant instant noodles or a whole lot regular. It's unclear. Use your imagination.
Noodles & Robots. Serious business in Japan.
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Images: Nissin; AkihabaraNews.com