I don’t want to grow old. It seems lonely.
Hasbro has introduced its Joy For All line of robotic pets designed to offer companionship to grandma and grandpa. First up in the series is the $99 Companion Pet Cat that is available in three colors and has motion and light sensors to respond to touch. It even has “VibraPurr” technology to replicate a “realistic cat purr.”
The Companion Pet Cat has sensors in its back, belly, cheek and head. Here’s how it responds to your touch:
- Pet its left cheek and it will move its head toward your hand
- Pet the back of its head and its back and the robot cat will purr
- If you keep petting your cat, it’ll roll over for a belly rub
- The more you pet it, the more relaxed it gets. It might even fall asleep, just like a real cat
- If you don’t touch the Companion Pet Cat for a few minutes, it falls asleep
Again, this is designed for the elderly, so there’s no need to feed or clean up after the Companion Pet Cat. But it’s so realistic that Hasbro even includes a “Care Guide” on how to enjoy your new “lifelike” feline friend. Hasbro says the robot cat requires minimum care, but it does offer a few helpful tips in case this is ever confused for a real cat:
- Gently brush the cat with a soft brush and wipe off dirt immediately
- Do not use detergents or stain removers
- Do not immerse in water
But perhaps the best reminders for nana and papa are to “never put your cat on the floor” and “when not in use place your cat on an elevated surface, especially at night.” So it doesn’t sound like the Companion Pet Cat can actually walk, but this, of course, is to avoid tripping over it and potentially being hurt.
All kidding aside, this seems like a great holiday gift for your memaw and bubbee, as robot pets have proved to be very beneficial. A 2008 study showed Sony’s AIBO robot dog helped nursing home residents in the U.S. feel less isolated. So there’s evidence robots can replicate that human-pet relationship.
“We are possibly witnessing the dawn of a new era, the digital revolution with likely effects on pet ownership, similar to the industrial revolution which replaced animal power for petrol and electrical engines,” Dr. Jean-Loup Rault, from the University of Melbourne’s Animal Welfare Science Centre, recently wrote.
If ninny and poppop don’t like cats, you can always check out WowWee Robotics’ CHIP (Canine Home Intelligent Pet) robot dog that’ll be available for $199 in May 2016 in hopes of being a true companion for families everywhere. The black and white robotic puppy uses a bunch of sensors to navigate around, find its toy ball, and return to its charging station.