Over the years, I've covered the topic of robotic pets, such as "poopless dogs," those that attend to the elderly, and whether or not robots should be awarded citizenship. But one challenge all robopets have had up to this point in time is the cost. With price tags in the tens of thousands, the idea of the average Joe purchasing a robopet for themselves or their children was slim to none.
Cost comes down . . .
The forthcoming Kiki from Zoetic AI will hit the market in June 2020. You can reserve one today with a refundable $99 deposit. That deposit will be applied towards the $799 discounted purchase price (from $1499 that was initially offered in 2019.) In comparison, this pricing is a less than one would spend for most pedigree dogs from breeders.
This package price includes a charger. However if you want Kiki to remain fully functional for uninterrupted interaction, you can pay an extra $79 for a charger which will provide you with a wireless base station you can position anyplace in your home or office.
The answer to loneliness . . .
Kiki was constructed with a robust personality to solve the emotion all of us feel from time to time, namely loneliness. Its inventor, Mita Yun, grew up without any pets, and always wanted a companion to help her manage periods of solitude.
Since these were the days of China's one-child policy, Yun lacked a sibling as well. Instead, Yun’s parents provided her with a menagerie of stuffed animals, "which she liked to imagine springing to life, their little paws dancing on her bedspread, their little bodies stuffed with possibilities," according to a Wired report.
The second comping of the robopet . . .
In the ever-advancing tech world, we are facing what that Wired report termed “the second coming of robot pets.”
This surge in automated companion pets has been noted by some critics as an advancement over what went before a couple of years back. Kiki exemplifies a step forward, with its ability to simulate mood changes through dynamic facial expressions, cheery chirps and its functionality in responding to its owner's voice.
Kiki has pointed ears and big puppy dog eyes. It has a camera in its nose, to read its owner's facial expressions, and it can perform little tricks to make you smile. If you pet it, Kiki sometimes cocks its head up or yelps in approval. In the firm's marketing promos, it's described as "a robot that touches your heart."
For those who'd like to reserve their very own Kiki, you can make your $99 deposit here. And for those who do consider purchasing, please report back in 2020 and let us know if Kiki filled your void for a cat or dog?
Primary Source: Kiki.ai