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Creepy or cute? Robot pals for you and your dog

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on September 10, 2019 - Duration: 01:36s

Creepy or cute? Robot pals for you and your dog

Virtual assistants and robot toys are nothing new.

But at a Berlin tech expo some companies are trying to push the envelope a bit further.

Matthew Larotonda reports.

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Creepy or cute? Robot pals for you and your dog

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VIDEO ADVERTISEMENT, SAYING: "Varram Pet Fitness is designed to be your pet's best friend for a lifetime." Is this a glorified chew toy for a dog or something more... personal?

The startup company behind it says it should be both.

The Varram company says this device is designed to provide companionship to your dog or cat.

It can dart around the house on its own, similar to a Roomba vacuum cleaner.

It makes noises and dispenses treats.

We found it at a recent tech expo in Berlin.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) TRANSLATOR FOR VARRAM, JI-YANG LEE, SAYING: "At first animals are very nervous because they don't know what to do with the robot.

But there is a beginners' mode when the robot moves very slowly and only performs very small, smooth movements so the pet can get used to it (...) and build a connection with the robot." Attempts to blur the line between robot toys and companions for humans are nothing new of course.

This one, called a piBo from South Korean company Circulus, is like a blend between an Amazon Alexa and a toy.

It can read facial expressions, tell people apart, listen to conversations, take photos, tell you the weather, and even teach a kid English.

South Korea has the lowest birth rate in the developed world and its developer says it's designed for both children and childless adults hungry for companionship.

Can it replace a human, though?

Probably not.

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