Business / Tech

Sharp releases portable 'robot' phone

Kyodo

Sharp Corp. on Thursday began selling a humanoid robot phone armed with artificial intelligence features and carrying a price tag of ¥213,840 (about $2,000).

The electronics maker is producing 5,000 units of the product, called RoBoHoN, per month. The launch of the phone is part of efforts to develop next-generation home appliances under Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which recently took over Sharp.

Sharp says the two-legged robot phone, about 19.5 cm tall and weighing 390 grams, can have conversations with users using artificial intelligence, besides having basic mobile phone functions such as a voice service and camera.

The RoBoHoN learns users’ preferences and behavioral patterns through dialogue, Sharp said, adding the device can also walk and dance, controlled mainly by voice.

Sharp opened a RoBoHoN Cafe in Tokyo’s Aoyama district Thursday to enable visitors to try the robot phone. The cafe will operate until June 7. The phone is also available at about 200 mass consumer electronics outlets across the country.

In addition to a ¥1,058 monthly basic fee to use its unique features, users need to pay a monthly telecommunication charge to use it as a regular mobile phone.

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