Here’s a kawaii idea: a robot who isn’t a frightening hunk of metal, but a kind and helpful pocket-sized companion. Sharp is flipping the robot overlord script and launching RoBoHoN, a smartphone-robot hybrid that specializes in communicating through conversation. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the robot can stay connected via 3G and LTE.
Designed by Tomotaka Takahashi, the CEO of robot development company RoboGarage, RoBoHoN fulfills the Sharp consumer electronics company vision to change the way we communicate with electronics. The robot stands 7.7 inches tall and weighs less than a pound. And although it features a 2-inch LCD screen with a 320-by-240 resolution for basic tasks, RoBoHoN learns best through conversation. The bipedal phonebot responds to voice commands and has machine learning capabilities, recognizing faces and voices while refining its communication skills to fit the user. It can sit, stand, dance, and even help hail a taxi.
The phonebot can take photos and videos with the 8MP camera built into its forehead. And because it can recognize faces, RoBoHoN can tell subjects to face its way in order to capture a candid moment, rendering the selfie stick obsolete. RoBoHoN can also turn any room into a movie theater. Just turn the robot towards a blank wall and it can project videos in HD at 1280-by-720 pixels. The integrated Qualcomm Adreno 306 GPU is designed to deliver superior graphics performance, and RoBoHoN’s multimedia and sensor processing have a dedicated, power-saving Qualcomm Hexagon DSP.
RoBoHoN will run on Android Lollipop with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of on-board storage, and a 1700 mAh battery. Sharp is expected to release the phonebot in Japan for 198,000 yen, or approximately $1,800, in select retailers and on the Sharp website on May 26.
The smartphone ecosystem is a mature one, and there’s a need for new styles and concept products. Sharp developed RoBoHoN as a partner to its owner, providing the kind of experiences a typical smartphone can’t.