Tohoku University: Meet HAGIBO, Tohoku University’s Chatbot

Earlier this year, Tohoku University’s official websites soft-launched a new AI-driven chatbot to answer commonly asked questions in three languages – Japanese, English and Chinese.

To make the experience more engaging for users, the university held a mascot design and nickname contest for the chatbot over the summer. The high number of initial entries required two rounds of voting. The first, in October, narrowed the field to the best five. And the final round, which closed on November 19, selected the winner.

Tohoku University is now proud to announce that its first chatbot will be named HAGIBO; and the winner of the name and design contest is Sara Kamijo, a fourth year student at the Faculty of Engineering.

According to Kamijo, the name HAGIBO is a portmanteau of “Hagi” (the bush clover that is the university’s logo) and “Robot.”

“It is a robot, but it is soft and moves with a bounce. The antenna is based on the bush clover motif of the school symbol, and changes its shape depending on the mood,” said Kamijo. “The heart is purple, the school color, and represents the intelligence and imagination of HAGIBO. Like the antenna, the heart changes its shape depending on the mood as well. It will work hard with a kind heart and never forget to be grateful, like students of Tohoku University!”

In addition to having her chatbot name and design adopted, Kamijo will also receive the top prize of a 30,000 yen Amazon gift card.

Ryo Fukushima, of the Graduate School of Science, won the second prize for his design “Cru-bot.” While Rie Koyanagi, a staff member at the Frontier Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences, came in third with “Tonpea-kun.” They will receive a 10,000 yen and 5,000 yen Amazon gift card respectively.

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