there were robot dogs. Then robot cats. Now Japan's third largest
toy maker is betting that the craze for virtual pets will take
to the water.....
Jellyfish (Mastigias papua)
latest addition to the menagerie of cyberpets is the "Aquaroid".
This robot jellyfish is said to soothe tattered nerves and is
proving an unexpected hit with overworked men at the end of
is the first robotic pet that "lives" in water, floats
up and down and wafts from side to side, mimicking the silken
movements of a jellyfish. The effect is hypnotic and owners
- largely busy, male white-coller workers in need of a calm,
compliant companion - are said to spend hours staring into the
glass tank that houses the creature.
toys manufacturer, Takara Co., claims that the solar powered
robot, about the size of a human hand, has special therapeutic
benefits. "Observing the gentle rhythms of the jellyfish
has a healing effect" Terumi Endo, a spokeswoman, said.
"Research shows it is good for soothing nerves and alleviating
addition to the jellyfish companion the "Aquaroid"
line also includes a school of robot fish, a shrimp, and a crab.
The fins, tentacles and pincers are all activated by solar powered
batteries, and a computer brain keeps collisions with other
marine life and aquarium walls to a minimum.
of Moon Jellies (Aurelia aurita)
ingenious new toy is being snapped up from Tokoyo stores. However,
these "cold fish" companions are not targetted at the
younger shoppers with a price tag of 50,000 yen (£280).
The company hopes that the line will appeal to mechanically-minded
twenty and thirtysomethings.
plans to export the robopets to the United Staes and to Britain
but has expressed concern that the water quality might not be
functions well in Japanese tapwater," Ms Endo said, "but
we cannot guarantee it will work as well in another environment.
We first have to check that British water is suitable."