The Japanese electronics maker Sharp is launching a tiny personal robot that doubles as a smartphone.
The company collaborated with the Japanese engineer Tomotaka Takahashi, who is famous for his tiny social robots, to create a miniature humanoid robot called RoBoHon that can basically do everything a smartphones can do and then some.
Among other things, the tiny robot can be used to make calls, text, check email, act as an alarm clock, and take pictures. It can even project video, photos, maps, and other content onto a wall or screen.
But unlike your smartphone, the social robot also boasts some characteristics that help make it feel more like a companion than a device.
For example, the bi-pedal robot, which stands tall at 7.5-inches and weighs less than a pound, can move around like a human. It can walk, sit up and down, and even dance. It has a facial recognition feature, so it can recognise people’s faces and read your facial expression to get a general idea of your mood.
The robot can play games with a user and can act as cameraman. And all of its features are voice-controlled.
According to a statement on Sharp’s website, the RoboHon will become available sometime during the first half of 2016. No price for the device has yet been revealed.
Whether or not personal robots will become as mainstream as smartphones in the US remains to be seen, but social robots, which are robots that are made to be around humans, are increasingly becoming more popular in other parts of the world, especially in Japan.
In June, Softbank’s humanoid social robot Pepper, which prices at $US1,600, went on sale in Japan and sold out its initial supply of 1,000 robots in just one minute.
Other social robots being developed for personal use include Jibo, which was founded by a former roboticist at MIT, and Buddy, which is made by the French robotic company Blue Frog Robotics.
Both companies are expected to begin delivery of their robots by May of 2016.
We first learned about Sharp’s new project on Gizmodo.
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