An Osaka-based startup founded by health care product group Fujimoto Holding Co. and toymaker Wiz Co. has released an upgraded version of a stuffed robot doll designed to be a conversation partner for elderly people.

The new Unazuki Kabochan, released June 17, has been programmed with a greater variety of words and phrases, totaling around 450, allowing a greater scope of response to the user's words and actions, according to PIP & WiZ Co. The previous model could handle some 400 words and phrases, but sometimes failed to reply appropriately according to context.

Selling for a suggested retail price of ¥27,000 at department stores and shops handling nursing care devices, the new Unazuki Kabochan can also sing 13 songs, eight more than the older unit, and the need to reset after it is switched off has been eliminated, the company said.