We ride Japan’s latest virtual pet sensation: a cushion with a moving tail.

Our Japanese-language reporter Punico Ninoude loves visiting her parents’ home because she gets to enjoy the unconditional love and warmth of her family job. However, being a working girl with all the responsibilities and worries that entails, she doesn’t have the time to dedicate to having a dog, or a cat, or anything else at her own place.

This is why she decided to take the virtual pet route. But rather than opting for the sterile digital company of a Tamagotchi, she chose to rent a Qoobo—a cushion-style, “therapeutic” robot that comes with its own happily wagging tail. It costs 13,200 yen (US$118.87) to purchase the robot for your own, but you can also rent one for a much more reasonable 800 yen a month through rental service Rentio here. Plug it in to charge it up, and then set it wherever you need it!

The draw of Qoobo is its intelligent tail wagging system. If you pet the cushion’s soft, furry body, the tail will respond in kind by wagging quickly or slowly.

▼ The box includes everything that Qoobo needs. No food, no litter!

Though it’s surprisingly large, Punico found that it only weighed as much as a typical large cushion. And what weight it does have lends a pleasing physicality to it, so it really does feel a bit like a pet.

▼ Snuggly, cuddly Qoobo.

Though Qoobo is just a big fluffy disc without a head or any limbs, Punico’s impression was definitely that of a cat. It just…felt feline somehow, the long, tactile tail in particular. Punico had long given up on ever owning a cat due to her allergies, but now she could realize that long-forgotten dream with Qoobo!

It was time to activate Qoobo’s twitchy tail. Punico gave the beige switch next to the base of its tail a firm boop and the tail immediately began swooping to-and-fro, causing her to emit a gasp of delight.

Just as promised, the tail speed responded to how she pet it. First, she tried long, languid strokes…

▼ The tail movements became lazy and slow to match!

▼ Then, when she sped up, the tail sped up too!

Qoobo will also wag its tail unprompted, which leads to Punico’s final experiment. You see, she’d always felt just a little bit jealous of those people on social media who share pictures of their pets hampering their work.

▼ Admittedly, you have to set it in place yourself.

Still, it felt incredibly novel to Punico to be able to whine “I can’t work like thiiiiis” at her fuzzy little friend.

Qoobo does come with some unfortunate downsides that Punico ran into during her month-long rental. For one thing, the movement of swishing its tail is accompanied by a gentle whirring sound. It’s too quiet to be very noticeable in the daytime, but at night it might startle you. Punico adjusted for this by treating it as Qoobo’s equivalent of a bark.

The other issue is that it’s very easy for Qoobo to revert into a lifeless, basic cushion before you notice. It can operate for eight hours, but then it needs to be charged again. Punico would accidentally leave the switch on and forget to “feed” Qoobo its requisite diet of electricity, so poor Qoobo ended up staring at the wall for long periods of time.

▼ Sorry, Qoobo.

Also, since Qoobo has a lustrous, fluffy coat, it is necessary to remove it and wash it occasionally to stop it from getting dirty, especially if you have a young human child in your home, like Punico does, who may be spreading mess and grime around.

Don’t assume that because Qoobo is a robot that it will last forever, either. The company assures that its lifespan will last for around 700,00 shakes of its fluffy tail. Assuming its tail wags 100 times per day, that’s a lifespan of about two years. Nothing gold can stay…and nothing so cute can last, either. Still, if you’re interested in cuddly robots, Qoobo is here for you, as is the Lovot brand.

Related: Qoobo, Rentio
Images © SoraNews24

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