Japanese are known for their unfailing politeness. But shoppers at a central Tokyo mall can't help but gape openly when Tomohiko Hayashi walks by chatting with a gesturing robot in his arms.
"Nubot" wears a polka-dot hoodie and has an iPhone for a face. It was invented by Nuuo, the creative start-up composed of Mr. Hayashi and Kensuke Sembo. The pair's mission is to enrich lives and enhance relationships through technology.
"The relationship between web and life is not completely good. These days, sometimes social media and too many emails interrupt our lives," says Hayashi, formerly an interactive planner at Hakuhodo. "So we want to make good the relation(ship) of our daily life and web."
"At that time I like Twitter very much and I'm very into it," Sembo says. "We want to visualize the relationships on the social network ... and celebrate the relationships."
Nuuo was officially formed last year -- the name doesn't mean anything, Sembo's baby daughter tapped the letters into his iPhone one day while playing with the gadget -- and one of their first projects was the "Tiny Riot" app.
It lets users record a heavy metal soundtrack by shaking their smartphones. But the creators had a deeper purpose -- giving socially constrained Japanese an outlet to vent their anguish following the earthquake and tsunami.
"We thought we want to make a noise ..." says Hayashi."... to express distress," Sembo adds."And to express our feeling of stress and anger and fears for the future," finishes Hayashi.
Even the logo of ID Password is based on connectivity -- it's modeled after the symbol for the Internet cable slot in the backs of computers.
As for Nubot, so far there's only one. The Nuuo duo are looking for partners to help produce the robot, which cost about $250 to build with the help of a friend who's an electrical engineer.
"If we collect 100 (people) who want to buy Nubot, we can make Nubot," Hayashi says.
Check out the full list of Creativity's 2012 Creatives You Should Know.