KDDI pairs a mobile phone with a robot

The robot seeks to act like a personal secretary and could be on the market as early as next year

As mobile phones add more features and more users connect with social media, the cell phone becomes a more important part of people's lives. Japanese carrier KDDI has developed a robot companion that seeks to bridge the gap between a phone and its user and a prototype was shown at this week's Ceatec expo near Tokyo.

The robot, called Polaris, is spherical and opens up to reveal a cradle on which a cell phone can sit. While in the cradle the phone communicates various data to the robot, which is able to manipulate the information and provide helpful suggestions to its user, the company said.

There were few specifics about how this could be put into practice, but KDDI offered the example of the robot analyzing a user's diet and offering suggestions. Presumably the user would have to enter what they eat each day for this to happen, and there seems no reason why a robot could do this any better than software running on the phone itself, except perhaps that the robot is cuter.

In addition to the user's diet, the robot would also collect other information in a "life log" and communicate with the user by displaying suggestions and data on a TV. KDDI likened the data it would provide to that coming from a personal secretary, and said it would deliver "essential information when you need it, wherever you may be and with whomever you may be talking."

Being spherical allows the robot to move around a little but it doesn't have a particularly long range, so something potentially useful like having your mobile phone run around the house and find you when it rings is probably beyond its capabilities.

KDDI presented the robot, developed by Flower Robotics, as a prototype and said commercialization could come as early as 2010. There's no word yet on how much it might cost.

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Tags robotsJapanmobile phonesceatec 2009KDDI

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Martyn Williams

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