Back in January, we got to meet a smaller, more portable version of the Qoobo cat tail pillow, which is aptly named Petit Qoobo. I’m sure I’m not the only sucker for this sort of bizarre cute gadget, but much like its sibling, this tail-wagging robot is also designed as a therapeutic device for folks at senior care facilities, or just whoever needs a cuddly companion but aren’t able to keep pets for various reasons — be it allergy or accommodation rules. With this new version, the tail responds to sound as well as touch, and you can even feel a lifelike heart beat plus a faint “purring” from within the fluffy body.
Today, Yukai Engineering announced that it will be using Indiegogo to take international pre-orders for the Petit Qoobo. The campaign will run from July 30th (this Thursday) until September 28th, and shipment will begin in December this year. Prices will range from $60 to $80, with color options including gray, brown, black and white. Meanwhile, the regular Qoobo with a more realistic cat tail will also be available for $135 instead of the usual $149, in case you want to bring both cat tail cushions home.
In May, the Petit Qoobo already raised 13.3 million yen (about $125,000 at the time) from 1,300 backers in Japan. According to Yukai Engineering CEO Shunsuke Aoki, the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan helped boost Qoobo’s local sales, so he believes it’s the same phenomenon for the Petit Qoobo’s local crowdfunding campaign.
“The crowdfunding success in Japan really goes to show how people are increasingly turning to robots for emotional comfort and how it’s becoming ‘normal’ to ‘adopt’ robots into their lives,” Aoki said. “People also seem to be embracing this new human-robot relationship more while in self-quarantine.”
The company aims to replicate similar success outside Japan via its Indiegogo campaign, though hopefully COVID-19 will be under control well before Petit Qoobo ships.