While we’ve seen plenty of versions of electronic or robotic pets, from the 90s Tamagotchi to Sony’s Aibo dogs, we haven’t seen one quite like the Tombot yet, which recently met its Kickstarter fundraising goal of $20,000. It works a lot like other canine bots, though it’s meant to be more of a emotional support dog, rather than a solution for a family looking for a pet that won’t wreak havoc on their allergies.
Part of the appeal of the Tombot is its look. Although it actually reminds us of the dogs from the claymation movie Isle of Dogs, it was designed in part by a special/visual effects company founded by puppeteer Jim Henson, who is well-known for giving us Kermit and the rest of the Muppets.
Tombot is a life-like pup specifically for senior citizens who are lonely and could use some affection and interaction.
As folks age, they're often prone to depression and anxiety. But pets have become a popular way to stave off these symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s not always realistic for every person to own a pet. Obviously not every home is suited to pets, but also degenerative diseases like dementia can prevent the elderly from safely caring for a dog, even though the benefits of support animals can help them the most.
With that in mind, the Tombot is here to resemble a real dog. It’s also touch responsive, so petting can stimulate a similar loving response to what we expect from our living, breathing dogs. It’s all made in order to foster a connection and a pet-owning experience that provides companionship.
Tombot is expected to be made available in 2020, but that’s subject to change. It will go on sale for $500 at launch - a fraction of the Sony Aibo’s $2,899 retail price. Early backers on Kickstarter can get a Tombot for even cheaper: $299.