Japanese engineers have designed a novel solution to childcare – a 38cm robot that can send pictures of your child to your mobile phone on demand.

The new ‘humanoid’ robot, called PaPeRo – short for Partner-type Personal Robot – has a camera in each eye and uses image recognition technology to remember and identify people. It can move at 20cm per second to track children around the house or nursery.

The futuristic robot also has an inbuilt mobile phone. When a parent calls it will locate the child and start to play with them. Parents can also send text messages and talk to children using PaPeRo’s inbuilt microphones and speakers.

As part of a deal between computer giant NEC and Japanese telecommunication company NTT the new service will be trialled in a Tokyo nursery school from this week.  

But the company is also marketing the product to busy executives as a personal assistant.

"It checks your email, tunes the TV to your favorite channel, and dances with your children," NEC says on it’s website.

"This egg-shaped robot named PaPeRo knows your favorite football team and searches the Internet for the day’s lineups and scores when you get home. It will also develop a personality depending on how you treat it. Speak to it nicely and stroke its head sensors and PaPeRo will learn to love you."

NEC’s Multimedia Research Laboratories senior manager Yoshihiro Fujita said the robot has been designed to remove typical ‘computer’ features like keyboards.

"We envision a future with simpler interactions with technology," he said. "You don’t need to learn to use PaPeRo like a PC, you just need to talk to it,"