Your Next Pet Could Be a Robot

Pets may be the next stage in human-robot companionship

Kiki is the new interactive robot that could replace your pet
Kiki is the new interactive robot that could replace your pet

Kiki is a robot, but with pointed ears, big puppyish eyes and the ability to read your facial expressions. And she’s poised to replace your household pet.

Marketed as “a robot that touches your heart,” Kiki goes on pre-sale later this month, Wired reported. The sophisticated robot has a highly-developed “personality engine” capable of learning your sense of humor, and an expression system that can display a complex range of emotions in response to stimuli. Complete with 16 touch sensors and the ability to learn and perform tricks, Kiki is designed to behave and interact like a real pet.

Of course, Kiki isn’t the world’s first robot pet. Mita Yun, Kiki’s creator, told Wired she credits her childhood Tamagotchi pet for some of her earliest inspiration. The digital Tamagotchi pets of the 90s were later followed by increasingly complex pet robot toys, like Sony’s Aibo, the small robot dog toy that attracted massive popularity back in the early 2000s.

Two decades later, as robots continue to play an ever larger role in the daily life of humans, the new generation of robotic pets are emerging not as toys, but as real, interactive companions. When Kiki goes on sale in late July, Yun expects the first customers will be those “who have this dream of having a robot companion and who want to embrace this future where robots and humans are living together,” she told Wired.

Yun hopes robot pets like Kiki will play a major role in the future of pet ownership. As she told Wired, she envisions a world in which humans and tech co-exist, bringing everyday objects to life through the magic of robotics. “Imagine if, in our office, the trash can has a character, or the printer has a character,” she said. “Imagine everything coming to life. That is the dream I have.”

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