The Daleks from Doctor Who may be iconic, but take them out into the street and you’re not likely to see children and grown adults alike cuddling them, snuffling their little noses and generally coo’ing like crazed doves. For that, you seemingly need one of Ugobe’s Pleo robot dinosaurs.
If the key to a so-called robot pet is its “adorable factor” – how much people want to play with it, love it and generally engage with it – Ugobe seem to be on to a winner. Current popular home-entertainment robots, such as the ongoing Robosapien series and Tomy’s i-SOBOT, trade endearing looks for high-tech glamour and impressive programmability; Sony’s AIBO, however, showed us (before its cost-cutting demise) that there’s a huge market for a more lifelike companion automaton, especially if you can bring it in at a price lower than the many hundreds of dollars Sony were asking for AIBO.
Personally, I’m still holding out for an i-SOBOT for Christmas, but that’s because I was always a geeky child; more mainstream consumers are likely to fall head over heals for Pleo’s charms.