To Western eyes this kickstarter project ticks just about every box in the quirky design checklist for new products from the land of the samurai and cherry blossom. Qoobo is advertised as a kind of petting robot, it is about the size of a standard round cushion, covered in fake (I hope) fur with a tail that wags when the cushion is stroked.

Research has shown that owning a (genuine) cat or dog can bestow real health benefits on its owner by reducing stress and hypertension. Pets respond to petting by wagging their tail and Qoobo is designed to simulate this interaction.  Qoobo just needs to be charged periodically from a USB socket, no messy litter tray, no claw marks on the furniture and no allergic reactions.
 Japan has an aging population and there is a lot of research into how technology can be used to provide support for the elderly. For me the concept is way too radical, and falls into uncanny-valley territory, I still can’t work out if this is a cuddly toy without a head or a cushion with a tail…

Yukai Engineering have set a target of 5 million yen (about 40,000 €) to fund this project and it is almost there with 40 days still to run. All the early bird offers have already been taken.

PS: Do androids dream of electric sheep?