Japanese electronics giant Sharp has launched RoBoHon, a 19.5cm tall robot that can make calls, send emails, search web and run apps, as well as stand up, walk and dance. The RoBoHon smartphone will be available in Japan to purchase for a price of JPY198,000 ($1,830).
The smartphone specifications of RoBoHon include Android 5.0 Lollipop, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 3G and 4G connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. There is also an 8MP camera located between the eyes of the robot for clicking pictures.
The robot is equipped with artificially intelligent voice and facial recognition and is programmed to respond to and hold conversations. The robot learns more about the user over time. The voice recognition function also enables the user to give the robot specific commands, such as asking the robot to dance or reel off a string of facts found on Wikipedia.
The robot was created by Tomotaka Takahashi, associate professor at the University of Tokyo Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology. Sharp plans to manufacture 5,000 units a month.
“Smartphones already have voice recognition technology but it is not used much as people are not comfortable talking to a grey black box. If it had a human shape, we would be willing to talk to it. In five years, robots will be as small as smartphones, becoming like a Tinker Bell or Jiminy Cricket that you can put in your pocket,” Takahashi said to Time.
The user initiates apps to get the robot to make phone calls, send SMS text messages or take a picture. The users need to subscribe to monthly voice and data plans, as well as subscribe to a cloud service powering the robot’s intelligence to initiate the activities.