Japan is famous and notorious for products and trends that simply surprise, in good or bad ways or both. Sometimes these ideas affect people in both halves of the world, making some people want them to be easily accessible. Panasonic’s latest crowdfunding experiment seems to fit the bill, featuring a robot cat with some interesting features. But whether Nicobo really looks like a cat and whether his random flatulence can be considered special has yet to be determined, it is difficult to deny how the “thing” seems to be attracting very positive attention.
It was supposed to be a cat, but Nicobo can probably best be described as a large sock with something round tucked inside. This round material contains some relatively advanced electronics, including sensors that can detect whether you are stroking or hugging. It also has a tail that can swing at different speeds, eyes that can express its simplistic “emotions” and an engine that makes it spin. Unlike cats, real or robots, fortunately, it does not move.
Nicobo also doesn’t purr, but, unlike cats, he can utter interrupted phrases or baby talk, known in Japan as “katakoto”. It gives the feeling of being attentive to your environment, including people. He has a camera to recognize faces and a light sensor to tell the time of day or the weather and behave accordingly, like taking a nap during the day, just like any cat.
And yes, I also fart. Sometimes randomly and sometimes triggered by his simulated mood. As strange as it may seem, it seems to add a level of authenticity that this pack of fabric and electronics is actually more like a living pet than a robot.
Panasonic seems to have definitely come across a product that generated a lot of interest even outside of Japan. Unfortunately, the 320 units planned for Nicobo have already sold out quickly on the Japanese crowdfunding platform Makuake, despite the price of almost $ 360. Even more unfortunate , owning a Nicobo also means paying $ 10 a month for features like smartphone connectivity, really making it look like it has a fart cat.