(AFP) – Feb 28, 2008
TOKYO (AFP) — For those who feel a bit lonely just talking on the phone, a Japanese company is offering a cellphone that turns into a robot buddy ready to chat.
Softbank Mobile Corp.'s new mobile line looks like a small humanoid with attachable arms and legs, with the screen showing various faces.
The PhoneBraver will be released in April after a character in an upcoming television drama series entitled "Cellphone Investigator 7."
The telephone comes with enough artificial intelligence to learn the user's habits.
If the user calls a particular person many times, a text phrase such as "You're calling her often these days, aren't you?" might appear coming out of the face's mouth, according to Softbank Mobile spokesman Katsuhide Furuya.
The user could carry on conversations with the phone by responding "yes" or "no" or with other simple replies.
"We haven't decided on specifics yet on the communication between the user and mobile, but your mobile would grow into a buddy different from others that is unique in the world," he said.
The PhoneBraver does not move by itself but can strike a pose with movable joints. The price is not disclosed yet.
Japan is known for its fondness for humanoids, which have been put to use as security guards, receptionists and for other functions in a country with a declining birth rate.
Japan also has cutthroat competition in mobile telephones, with three main companies constantly trying to find new incentives to snare users.
The number of cellphone subscriptions topped 100 million in Japan at the end of December against the nation's total population of 127 million, according to industry data.
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