Robotic Pets to Relieve Stress
Published on Thursday, 28 October 2010
Japan's toy giant Sega Toys employee displays the new robot cat 'Yume-Neko Venus', or 'Dream Cat Venus', is equipped with touch sensors and reacts like a real cat Photo: AFP
The Japanese love their pets but are faced with the lack of space to accommodate live companion animals. As if on cue, Japanese toy manufacturers have produced a new range of robotic pets ranging from the standard companion animals to potted plants.
Apparently, sales of the Dream Pet range of robotic domestic animals, made by Sega Toys Co, rose by 30 per cent between October and December last year, compared to the same months the previous year. Another Japanese toy manufacturer, Tomy Co, also experienced an 80 percent increase in sales in the same period for its robot puppy, which is convincingly lifelike to the extent that its owners can even take it for a walk.
Hiroshi Hirano, the sale department manager at Sega Toys Co., told media at Toy Forum 2009 trade show in Tokyo that he “thinks those toys are popular because they are cute and can soothe people.”
Paro, a pet robot seal which bats its eyelashes when strokes, is also soaring in popularity in Japan. Originally designed for therapeutic use in hospitals and caring homes, it is increasingly being bought as a domestic pet substitute in Japan, according to its creators at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
The nation’s desire to relieve stress even extends to plants. More than 50,000 robotic potted plants, called Pekoppa, have been sold in Japan since it was launched in late September, according to its manufacturers Sega Toys Co.
Pekoppa, which means nodding leaf, flutters its leaves and waves its stem in response to the sound of the owner’s voice or nearby noises.
Describing the appeal of the amenable potted plant, Minako Sakanoue, a company spokeswoman, said: “If you have no subordinates who would listen to your grumbling in the office or no children who would talk with you, Pekoppa will be by your side, gently nodding.”
These pets seem perfect for people with hectic lives and busy schedules as owners do not need to worry about cleaning up after them or leaving them alone during working hours. With such innovative technology, people can enjoy the benefits of having a pet without the hassle of actually looking after them. Even in Singapore, the Zhu Zhu hamsters rocketed off the shelves until they were recalled due to a toxic substance used during manufacturing. Which leads us to conclude that at least, when this pet craze is over, the pets being put aside will not be able to feel the rejection and pain when that happens.