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Smart Doll in bar
Image: Danny Choo
A finished Mirai Suenaga doll complete with miniature camera accessory

If you think dolls are just for little girls and quirky adult collectors, inventor Danny Choo’s new creation might just change your mind. The automatic version of the Mirai Suenaga Smart Doll is part doll, part robot – and she’s definitely more interesting than your average Barbie. While there have already been toys that move and talk, the Mirai Suenaga does so much more. Choo believes it is the first robotic interactive doll of its size that you can control using an Android smartphone.

Mirai Suenaga
Image: Danny Choo
The Mirai Suenaga Smart Doll in development

Choo’s Smart Doll will be like a mini personal assistant – able to notify you of Facebook and Twitter updates, remind you about appointments, help you with driving directions, link with other smart gadgets, and even offer language lessons. Sure, your mobile device can do all that, but can you dress it up in its own line of custom-made outfits? Not to mention the attention you’ll get when the Smart refrigerator-linked doll sitting next to you suddenly informs you that it’s time to get more milk.

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Smart Doll neck
Image: Danny Choo
A closer look at the robotics in the neck

The Mirai Suenaga Smart Doll draws together influential aspects of contemporary Japanese pop culture: anime, ball-jointed dolls (BJD), robots, and fashion. BJD are dolls with ball and socket joints that permit a wide range of movement. Volks introduced modern BJD to Japan in 1999, and by 2008 the company was making sales totaling around $50 million a year. Well known among these types of doll are the Super Dollfies, which have an almost fanatical fan base. With prices upwards of $400, sometimes rising into the thousands, these dolls are serious business.

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