If I asked you if you have a tiny robot in your pocket, you’d probably chuckle and show me your Android smartphone. What if I meant it literally? A new product from Sharp aims to answer that question. RoboHon is a tiny robot running Android. Its heart and brain is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, the same type seen in the original Motorola Moto G. The little robot has a 2-inch 320×240 screen on its back, but that’s meant to be used less often than interfacing with it as if it were a tiny robot buddy with cellular connectivity, which is basically exactly what it is.
Standing about eight inches tall, the little robot is equipped with face and voice recognition so it knows who’s talking to it and what they want. Presumably, a wider range of commands than normal will be available to accommodate the quirky little device’s re-imagining of how we interact with our smartphones. In almost all ways, this is indeed a smartphone. The usual trappings are mostly all there; a screen, LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity and the Android OS. Rather than a normal notification, however, RoboHon will raise its arms if something interesting needs your attention. This is just one example of how different it is from a normal smartphone. The robot can walk, dance, sit and stand, read your text messages to you and take responses, act as an alarm clock and includes a projector. Google Now may be on board as a backbone, but RoboHon’s interface is made to be one of a kind and far different from what smartphone owners are used to.
The talkative robotic life of the party has a natural conversational interface that allows you to speak to it as you would imagine you’d speak to a quasi-intelligent robot pal. In a teaser video, it’s shown doing things like taking pictures to project later on in the day for group viewing, waking an owner up by reminding him of the day’s agenda and even recognizing people around it at a party while taking pictures on its own to commemorate the occasion. It is unknown when or if RoboHon plans to stage an adorable robot uprising against humanity, but Japanese buyers will be able to ask it themselves some time in 2016. With a product this quirky, it may be easy to assume it won’t be leaving its homeland without the help of re-sellers and import websites, but if it’s a hit, its popularity may spur a wider release. RoboHon seeks to replace and subvert traditional smartphones, so only time will tell how well such an approach is received.