If you have always wanted your very own personal robot, you will soon get your wish. Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp has showcased a prototype robot that doubles as a smartphone at the Ceatec electronics show in Makuhari Messe, Japan.
The robot is named RoboHon, which amalgamates the Japanese words for "robot" and "phone" together. It stands just under 20cm tall and features a camera and a projector on its head, as well as an LCD screen on its back. It also comes with a mic, speakers and a facial and voice recognition system.
The tiny, adorable robot was demonstrated on Tuesday 6 October by Sharp during a press conference and was able to respond to voice commands and make a call to a contact, take a photo, display the photo through its projector on to small and big surfaces, and even do a little dance.
The promotional video for RoboHon also shows the robot talks to the user to let them know they have received a phone call or an SMS text message. While the user places the robot's head by their ear to answer a call, when receiving a text message, they can command it to read out the text message, and even verbally give the robot a message to send back in reply.
The video also shows the robot, like a smartphone, can act like an alarm, talking to the user to wake them up, and it can even tell you what you have planned on your calendar, almost like a mini personal assistant.
Most interestingly of all, when asked if a sunset is beautiful, the robot can reply in agreement, although it is not clear whether it is actually able to analyse the scene before it and make a real judgment. RoboHon is the brainchild of Professor Tomotaka Takahashi, CEO of Robo Garage, who was on hand at Ceatec with his invention.
In July 2014, IBTimes UK interviewed Takahashi at Hyper Japan in London, where he demonstrated the Robi and revealed how his vision of the future would include robots that were used for communication and would one day completely replace smartphones.
"Robots will be used as an information device like a smartphone. Smartphones can control electrical appliances in our house. They can be an interface between human beings and the information, and we can connect through the smartphone to our friends," Takahashi said.
"But we feel uncomfortable to talk through that square black box. If it has a human shape, we'd be more willing to talk to it. In five years, robots will be just as small as smartphones. They will be like Tinkerbell or Jiminy Cricket and you can put them in your pocket."
According to PC World, Takahashi said at the press conference that he would still be using his iPhone for at least a couple more years until the technology improves, but he does see the robot being practical enough for everyday use.
"Practicality means a lot of different ways," he said. "Our smartphone is practical, most of the use is for fun, but we treat it as practical. I think RoboHon is similar."
RoboHon will go on sale in Japan in the first half of 2016 and Sharp will release more details closer to the launch date.