Phone or friend? The new robot-shaped smartphone that wants to know you and learn (VIDEO)

7 Oct, 2015 12:24

Millions of people have smartphones, but not many of them look like robots - until now, that is. A new device that looks just like a small android action figure can recognize your face and be your friend.

The concept is called RoBoHoN and it’s hailed by creator Sharp as a “phone in human shape. A phone that you feel like talking to. A phone that also wants to know you.”

The robo-phone is a joint project with robot designer Tomotaka Takahashi. The two have produced a 19.5cm-tall robot figure, the selling point being that it looks awfully friendly and human-like.

All the usual smartphone features are on offer. However, the device is also a small movie and image projector, as well as personal assistant and taxi hailer – not to mention the ability to recognize people’s faces, as a lot of technology seems to be aiming at lately.

In compliance with today’s consumer whims, the phone-slash-android also talks - it can prance around your desk, or even dance on request.

But as with Pepper, the remarkably-astute Japanese machine, nobody knows if RoBoHoN will take off in the same way Japanese toys tend to back home. Some have noticed, for instance, that Americans seek a less polite buddy, one who is more capable of things like sarcasm. So, the American version of Pepper is getting a few cultural tweaks to better cater to that.

From the front, RoBoHoN looks like a robot. On the back, the device sports a two-inch touchscreen. Under the bonnet, it features a 1.2GhZ quad-core processor.

Sharp says the idea emerged out of brainstorming on the subject of the next big thing for mobile phones, although, arguably, the much broader thing here is Japan’s broad and more serious push into increasingly intelligent robot technology in general (the country is carrying out a comprehensive robotization strategy).

Also, in keeping with the now popular tradition of cloud-based intelligent systems, the robot will  learn from its interaction with humans and update its behavior as it accumulates data.

The only other details being given out so far are the release date, which is sometime in 2016.