Rapid advancements are being made in artificial intelligence and such products stole the limelight at last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
A range of products were unveiled that can respond to voice commands to play music at home and follow other remote-control orders - or even think on their feet by accessing and "learning" from the Internet cloud.
One company, Hanson Robotics, unveiled its life-like "Professor Einstein," which has realistic facial expressions and can engage in informative conversations such as lessons in math and science.
Jia Jia is not quite there yet, but Chen sees a bright future for her kind in China.
He said growing prosperity was causing many young Chinese to eschew jobs like waitressing, while an aging population would require more hands on deck in hospitals and nursing homes - even if they aren't human hands.
Chen showed a video of a less life-like, but more functional, robot making and serving tea to team members at his university lab in the eastern province of Anhui.
Chen, however, dismissed sci-fi fears of future robots getting too smart for our own good.
"As long as this is done in a step-by-step and controlled manner, I don't think there will be a big impact on society. It won't harm human beings," he said.