Yukai Engineering, the team behind the strangely adorable cat tail pillow, is back with a new quirky invention. Unveiled at CES 2023, the Fufuly is yet another anxiety-reducing cushion from the Japanese company, but this time featuring a gentle rhythmical pulsation as the main therapeutic tool. The idea is that when you’re hugging a Fufuly, its life-like behavior stimulates your belly to induce slower and deeper breathing. Despite its thought-bubble shape (supposedly to evoke the image of a puff of air), the cushion felt more like a mellow creature dozing off in my arms. I even mistook the quiet mechanical noise as a cat’s purr, to which CEO Shunsuke Aoki assured me this was purely a coincidence.
For this project, Yukai Engineering partnered with the University of Tokyo, which researched on the “phenomenon of rhythmical synchronization between individuals or between individuals and objects” as they interact with one another. Think how we usually feel calm when we’re holding a baby or pet in our arms — it’s all subconscious. “Using the cushion for just 5 minutes can reduce users’ stress levels and make them more alert,” according to Aoki.
The Fufuly comes with three operating modes: you have the self-explanatory “regular” and “deep” modes to suit your calming needs, with the third mode based on common relaxation breathing techniques. Sadly, we couldn’t change modes with the prototype on the show floor. Aoki added that his team already had the idea of a pulsating cushion around the same time as the Qoobo cat tail pillow, but in the end, they decided to develop the latter first.
Another new device shown off by Yukai Engineering was Lightony, a cute humanoid bedside lamp which literally nods off after a while. Supposedly, the robot’s life-like head tilt and eye roll movements will encourage you to fall asleep faster, though it’s also possible that kids would just stay up as they play with this toy. Lightony also responds to voice commands (all processed locally instead of the cloud), so you can tell the robot to set a countdown when you’re in bed, or say “good morning” to wake it up.
Aoki told Engadget that the Fufuly will be launching in Japan this year by way of crowdfunding, followed by a global launch eventually, though no price is announced just yet. As for the Lightony, it’s still in its early development stage, so we’ll have to circle back later for an update.