A lot has been written about the growing interest in automation and robotics during the pandemic – I know because I wrote a lot. Most of these discussions are about things like logistics, delivery, and food preparation. But there is also a convincing argument for camaraderie. For this reason, the crowdfunding campaign Petit Qoobo could not have started at a better time.
The smaller, more portable of the quirky cat pillows will be launched tomorrow on Indiegogo in the U.S. after a successful campaign in his home country of Japan that raised the project $ 125,000. This time, Yukai Engineering hopes to earn another $ 50,000. The prices will be between $ 60 and $ 80 depending on the levels and all the goodies. Shipping is expected to start in December, making it a fairly solid Christmas gift for allergy-prone animal lovers.
“Crowdfunding’s success in Japan really shows how people are increasingly turning to robots to provide emotional comfort and how it is becoming” normal “to include robots in their lives,” said CEO Shunsuke Aoki in a press release. “People seem to accept this new human-robot relationship even more in the self-quarantine.”
The latest version of the robot cat pillow includes the standard wagging tail, which speeds up our stroking. It will also begin to wag in response to voices and sounds and offer a subtle heartbeat. Robot companions have of course been a phenomenon in Japan for some time, which is partly due to an aging population. The long stretches of isolation caused by social distancing could certainly prove to be another key factor in their adoption.
According to the company, sales of the original Qoobo increased by ~ 30-40% over the same period last year. Qoobo has been around for a few years, so it is very likely that much of this renewed interest is due to the intense sense of isolation that social distancing can create.