The Polaris mobile phone robot was unveiled recently in Tokyo; it consists of a mobile phone handset and a spherical robotic cradle. It was developed by KDDI and Flower Robotics. Check out the Polaris video below.
(Polaris mobile phone robot)
When the phone is held near Polaris, the robot opens up to reveal a cradle for the handset. And when it is placed aboard, the robot automatically steers itself toward the contactless charger connected to the home TV set. Polaris then proceeds to analyze the most recent information collected by the handset, and it displays various data on the TV screen and offers advice, if necessary. Like an artificial life form with a bit of personality, Polaris can physically respond to the data with a series of lights, sounds, and movements.
You're probably asking the same question I am - so, what does the "robot" do besides come and get your phone? Compare this prototype of a robotic phone cradle with the 2007 Cellular Phone Robot.
The Cellular Phone Robot (CPR) was designed by engineers from the Soochunhyang University in Korea. The ultimate vision for this phone is that of "ubiquitous companion robot." For this iteration of the device, they have focused on giving the CPR "emotions" expressed in tactile, olfactory and visual behaviors.
That's right, olfactory. The Cellular Phone Robot has 12 micro-nozzles to emit odors that are intended to identify the caller, along with different vibration patterns as well as music. All smell combos are determined in the strictest engineering way - biometrics.
You've never seen a cellphone like this one. It actually has little wheels on it; it can find its way to a recharger (on a table top) and can find the owner of the phone to take a call. (Check out the video shown below; oddly, the presentation starts about thirty seconds in, so just skip.)
I guess we'll need to see if the Polaris unit gets more interesting features; it is being readied for a release next year.