Menu
DoCoMo ports its Japanese voice assistant to a toy sheep

DoCoMo ports its Japanese voice assistant to a toy sheep

OHaNAS is a smart toy that can speak in Japanese and retrieve useful online information

From NTT DoCoMo and Tomy, OHaNAS is a smart toy that can speak in Japanese and retrieve useful online information.

From NTT DoCoMo and Tomy, OHaNAS is a smart toy that can speak in Japanese and retrieve useful online information.

While Microsoft has made its voice-driven Cortana assistant available across Windows 10 devices, Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo is porting its own helper to a different kind of hardware -- a toy sheep.

Developed with toy maker Tomy, the cartoonish plaything can have simple conversations in Japanese and connects via smartphones to DoCoMo's cloud-based natural-language dialogue platform. It's designed for family use.

The gadget is called OHaNAS, short for the awkward title Organized Human interface and Network Artificial intelligence System but also a play on the Japanese verb "hanasu," to speak. The latest in Tomy's long-running Omnibot toy series, it can talk about topics such as the weather, food or horoscopes, and engage in Q&A sessions with users aged 8 and up.

A promo video on YouTube shows the toy playing a word game with a girl, suggesting seasonal cooking ingredients to a woman, and telling a bedtime story.

OHaNAS has a round body, long floppy ears and glowing eyes that change color. Like many Japanese cartoon characters, it lacks a mouth or other facial features, leaving its expression to the user's imagination.

As it converses with users, OHaNAS can learn their preferences and hobbies. It can also take cues from conversation and search the Internet for relevant information. For instance, if a user mentions the need to do laundry, OHaNAS might search for and relay weather information that would affect drying clothes outdoors, a common practice in Japan.

Earlier this year, a planned new version of Mattel's Barbie doll raised privacy concerns related to its ability to record what children say and upload it to a cloud server.

Many Japanese toys and robots, including the Omnibot models from Tomy, have also featured conversation abilities. But the sheep is the first to use DoCoMo's sophisticated Shabette Concier smartphone voice agent, which can analyze linguistic patterns in spoken Japanese.

DoCoMo also wants to port the app to IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as connected cars and home appliances so people can simply talk to them instead of using manual controls or settings.

OHaNAS is slated to go on sale in Japan in October, priced at ¥19,800 (US$159).

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NTT DoCoMoconsumer electronicsroboticsTomy

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments