(Pocket-lint) – Panasonic has come up with perhaps its most precious invention to date: Nicobo, a robot sock cat. We only wish it was more widely available.
Let’s be real: Cats are perfect and amazing and make great companions. They give you tons of love and attention, and they require little work in return. So, the idea of turning a feline into a robot purely to help people who are isolating or social distancing during the pandemic and are unable to own a cat, whether because of rental agreements or allergies or cost, well that makes perfect sense to us.
In conjunction with Toyohashi University of Technology Michio Oka Laboratory, Panasonic has, therefore, created Nicobo. It’s a robot cat with a sock-like fabric exterior and big, engaging eyes. As Gizmodo reported, it detect syour face using a camera, and listens and respond to your voice through directional microphones. Nicobo has touch sensors, too, so it can react when you touch it.
Nicobo has a limited vocabulary, knowing only one word at first. But it will learn to speak full Japanese sentences and can have a toddler-level proficiency.
Panasonic’s robot cat is incapable of roaming around your house because its movements are limited to rotating and looking up and down. But it can fart. That’s right. On days when it might be more aloof, just like any real cat can be, it produces flatulence and might not respond to you as much as usual.
If you’re dying to pet Nicobo yourself, we have some bad news: Panasonic is only planning to make 320 Nicobos in its initial production run, and pre-orders through a crowdfunding website are already sold out. Panasonic said it expects to ship Nicobo in March 2022. It costs approximately $360, and those who pre-ordered must pay about $10 per month to use some extra features, such as smartphone pairing and updates.
Here’s to hoping Panasonic can ramp up production of Nicobo, but we suspect that’s dependent on whether there’s enough interest.
Writing by Maggie Tillman.