While it may strongly resemble the Roomba vacuum cleaner from iRobot, Sharp’s new Cocorobo does so much more than just clear your floor. The circular robot can speak three different languages, including Japan’s popular Kansai dialect, give you updates on your pet’s status, and even take pictures. The name is a play on the Japanese word for “heart” (kokoro), and Sharp has done all it can have the machine seen as a robot with heart.
While Cocorobo won’t be able to engage in a deep conversation, it can understand simple orders and is able to give about 30 different responses. It will great you with “hello,” “long time no see” when you come home, and even say “feeling good” if you ask how it’s doing. In addition to Japanese, it can also speak and understand English and Chinese.
If you have a smartphone, Cocorobo can send you picture updates of your home or pet. It uses both echolocation technology as well as infrared rays, so in addition to finding your pet or items under the furniture, it is also adept at moving around without running into walls or objects in the house. Not only that, but it purifies the air as it moves around the house. The vacuuming function can run for up to an hour before recharge is required, and can even be updated in the future via its USB port.
Sharp has said the device will go on sale in Japan this June, with China and other parts of Asia to follow afterwards. The price is will be 130,000 yen (approx. $1,630), but there will also be a version without the voice technology, and only does vacuuming for 90,000 yen ($1,130).