Robot Maker Says He’s Designed A Pocket Robot That Could Replace Your Smartphone

LONDON — A Japanese robot maker says he’s designed a personal robot that could be the “next smartphone.”

“You will put him in your pocket and talk to him like your own Jiminy Cricket,” Tomotaka Takahashi, CEO of robot design company Robo Garage and research associate professor at the University of Tokyo, told The WorldPost recently at The WorldPost Future of Work Conference. He said he’s aiming to have the pocket robot, which is still just a prototype, hit the market in a year. He has not shown the prototype to anyone publicly.

Takahashi says the pocket robot has a head and limbs, is able to walk and dance, and expresses “emotions” through gestures and color-changing eyes. In these ways, the pocket robot is similar to “Robi,” a larger robot also created by Takahashi that’s been on sale since 2012. (You can see Robi in the video above.)

The biggest difference is that the pocket robot, which doesn’t have a name yet, would be connected to the Internet. By collecting data about your online and offline behavior, your pocket robot would “get to know you.” In fact, its personality would change based on your personality, Takahashi said.

“Smartphones are hitting a wall,” he said. There’s only so much a person can do while looking at a screen, he went on, and smartphone voice recognition is not widely used. “We can talk to pets — even fish or turtles — but not to square boxes or screens.”

Takahashi believes that it won’t be enough for our next device to be intelligent — it will also need to be lifelike. It’s why he thinks “wearable tech,” like Google Glass or the much-vaunted Apple Watch, won’t catch on.

“We can talk to pets — even fish or turtles — but not to square —> Read More