Japanese manufacturer Sharp has taken the unusual step of launching a small robot that doubles as an Android cellphone. First previewed at last year’s CEATEC trade show, the so-called RoboHon was given an official press launch today, where its retail price of 198,000 yen ($1,814) was finally revealed.
Costing over twice as much as even the most premium Android flagships, RoboHon — currently only for sale in Japan, with foreign launches being explored — aims to compete not on specs, but on a unique set of features not found in other phones that don’t also happen to be small automatons. Running Android Lollipop 5.0 and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, the foot-tall bot features just a two-inch, QVGA display on its back, along with a 720p projector embedded in its head.
With entry-level specs (for a phone, anyway) like those, RoboHon would seem to need a pretty sophisticated set of capabilities to justify its premium price. At present, however, the biped, which is controlled by voice commands, is merely able to walk and dance — though further functions, like taxi hailing and recipe assistance, are said to be in development. But as it stands, the product sounds gimmicky at best, with certain voice recognition features even tied to a six-dollar-and-up monthly subscription fee.
RoboHon is compatible with the LTE bands of Japan’s largest network provider, NTT DoCoMo, but is not being sold directly by the carrier itself. Instead, the only way to purchase one bundled with service will be through unnamed MVNOs, according to Engadget (via XDA Developers), which attended the launch.