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July 12, 2012

Future Tech: The future of pets

The electronic yap of your robodog or the synthesised miaow of your catdroid could be waking you in the future instead of the real thing – if the technological pet manufacturers have anything to say about it.

via mojohelpers

Meet the i-SODOG from Tomy, controlled by your phone and able to do a whole bunch of things including dancing to your downloaded music, sit, and carry out interactive commands like ‘shake hands’. Not quite a wet nose nuzzled in your hand or a newspaper delivered from the front door to your bed, but it’s getting there. It does bring up an interesting question though: will our regular, living, breathing pets ever be replaced by robotic versions?

via Plastic Pals

Is it an innate human need to have an animal companion for the comradeship? Or to feel naturally superior to a mute and (relatively) ‘dumb’ animal. Yes, I know some cats can open doors, and some chimps can understand rudimentary language, but on the whole, have they conquered space flight or identified the Higgs boson particle? No. So having that ability to talk down to something and have it rely on you for food, water and shelter feels good to a human. You are in control of it, you look after it (see the Tamagotchi craze of a few years ago, where children could look after ‘pets’) and it reflects your care and attention right back at you.

Will a robotic dog do the same? Will it care about you the way and show its appreciation like, say, a dog does after walk? (Cats are a different matter altogether, they do their own thing.) i-SODOG might fill that need, it might eventually develop a warm, wet nose to snuggle between you and the newspaper when it’s raining outside and the very last thing you want to do is go for a walk. We’ll see.

Alternatively there’s always DarwinBot – an experimental computer-driven companion for your existing pet. Best of both worlds!

via msrobotics

Well, I’m firmly in the ‘I’ll wait and see’ camp on this one. Plus, if the catdroid ever happened, it would have to replace Diva (my cat – and yes her personality matches her name), and I’m not sure that would be worth it. As an alternative to an actual animal though (for the allergic or the infirm who can’t look after a real pet), maybe in a few years these robopets could be the domestic companions we’re looking for. What do you think? Drop me a note in the comments section below, or share your 140 character thoughts via Twitter.