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A technical hitch

tech reviews Updated: May 18, 2010 00:49 IST

Almost everyone stood when the bride walked down the aisle in her white gown, except the wedding conductor. She was bolted to her chair. But this was no ordinary conductor. I-Fairy, was the 4-foot (1.5-meter) tall seated robot with flashing eyes and plastic pigtails, that led the ceremony at a restaurant in Hibiya Park in central Tokyo on Sunday.

This was the first time a marriage had been led by a robot, said its manufacturer Kokoro Co. “Please lift the bride’s veil,” said the robot in a tinny voice, waving its arms in the air as the newlyweds kissed in front of 50 guests. The I-Fairy wore a wreath of flowers and directed a rooftop ceremony.

Wires led out from beneath it to a black curtain a few feet away, where a man crouched and clicked commands into a computer.“This was a lot of fun. I think that Japanese have a strong sense that robots are our friends,” said bride Satoko Inoue, 36, who works at manufacturer Kokoro.

“It would be nice if the robot was a bit more clever, but she is very good at expressing herself,” said new husband Tomohiro Shibato, 42, a professor of robotics at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in central Japan.The I-Fairy sells for about 6.3 million yen ($68,000) and three are in use in Singapore, the US and Japan.