Humans, we’re a sociable bunch. To that end, we’re pre-programmed to develop technology that helps us stay connected with others. Sometimes, though, the connection can be with the technology itself. Enter Loona, the adorable pet robot that will either melt your heart or, at the very least, serve as a loyal smart home companion (or hopefully both).
Loona appears to be the exact halfway point between the adorableness of Anki’s Cozmo and Amazon’s high-end Astro homebot. There’s definitely a focus on younger users here, but kids of “all ages” might find themselves sucked in by her charms. Loona has apparently also been designed to interact well with any analog pets you may already have.
Armed with a 3D camera and edge sensors for navigating your home, Loona also has a regular camera for face detection and object recognition. There are four microphones that provide Loona the ability to locate you as you beckon her and touch sensors so she’ll lean into your head-strokes with eerily biological authenticity. At launch it’ll respond to a slew of verbal commands and gestures, and the company claims new ones will continuously be added. There will also be a graphical programming tool so you can create your own interactions and a community to share them with.
One of the more endearing features is Loona’s expressive personality. Loona’s digital eyes are surprisingly articulate and feel like they are right out of a Disney movie. The company indicated that there could also be the option to add custom expressions and emotions further down the line.
Beyond being a digital pet, Loona can also double as a home security and monitoring system. The benefit being you can direct her around your abode and find where your IRL cat is hiding unlike static pet-cams where you (and I say this from experience) might ruin a weekend away driving back because you haven’t seen your cat appear for two whole days and you’re worried but it turns out she was just sleeping in one spot the entire time. With Loona, not a problem.
Loona was originally launched on Kickstarter securing over three million dollars in backing which, if nothing else, shows that there’s a lot of interest in this category. The robots are now shipping to backers with general availability on track for the end of this month at the company’s website where it will retail for $449. If you’re extra keen you can pick one up now via the Kickstarter page for $359.