Yamaha Design “Synapses” Charlie


A charming robot that sings just for you.


Charlie is a communication-oriented robot incorporating VOCALOID. In contrast to the theme of this new concept, Charlie features a simple structure combining spheres and cones reminiscent of Scandinavian wooden toys, and a subdued coloring like that of Japanese tin toys or animations from the sixties and seventies, which give it a somewhat nostalgic appearance.


The sizing and spacing of parts have been tuned to achieve a balance that can be interpreted as conveying almost any expression, depending on the emotional state of the person looking at it. We created a simple expression, one that seems almost as if it is asking for something when silent, while matching the emotion of any song when singing.


Giving Charlie the posture of a child about to go out for a walk and limiting movement to the head and legs makes him an adorable presence that you naturally want to take care of. You can't help but cheer his efforts when he's dancing his heart out, or as his singing improves.

Moe Totani
Moe Totani
Yamaha Design Laboratory

Shino Sakamoto
Shino Sakamoto
Yamaha Design Laboratory

Living with music, not just listening or playing.

Charlie is a robot that communicates by singing, born from a project that started with working women who wanted to take a moment’s break when tired from their jobs.
The concept behind Charlie was that he would grow up in the course of his life with the user, so we consciously sought to endow him with an appearance that would convey an obvious sense of immaturity, before he had grown up.

We also focused on a cuteness that would encourage users to talk to Charlie every day, and take care of him. When confronted by problems such as needing to increase his size in order to dissipate heat, we responded by adding heat dissipation holes on the base and back so that we could give him a chubby shape and a size that appears cute the moment you look at him. The holes on the base were shaped to look like striped pants—this helped us maintain his small size, and give him an adorable air. We carefully considered the position of the microphone and the size of the logo, eliminating any element that would detract from the cuteness of his appearance. At first, we used a motion sensor in a prominent spherical shape protruding from the sole of Charlie's foot, but we were able to reduce its presence to retain a flat, natural sole shape.

Our commitment to cuteness and our world view are also very evident in the product packaging. The package design takes hints from the design of a baby stroller, and gives a memorable first impression by presenting Charlie's face first when it is opened diagonally along the scored line. Although you might normally expect the body to be covered in protective film and styrofoam when packaged, Charlie appears without any of this, just like a baby.

You may be surprised that Yamaha has released a robot, but Charlie is a bit different to other robots, which usually focus on function and form. We hope that by singing, Charlie will enrich the hearts of users and offer little moments of inspiration, just as a musical instrument might. We believe it could be wonderful if he could become a source of relief for users, making them feel "I'll talk to Charlie when I get home." In that sense, this product may be able to offer a way of enjoying music somewhat different to the joy that comes from listening and playing, which we at Yamaha have offered up until now. We would love for you to welcome Charlie as a member of your family.

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