Robotic dog has bark

Always wanted your own robot? Now you can have one – cheap.

It may not clean the house or wash the car in Jetsonian fashion, but it’ll keep you company and entertain guests. Tiger Electronics Inc., a division of Hasbro Inc., has introduced its Poo-Chi interactive puppy. It’s based on the biorhythmic response that made Furby appealing (if a little frightening). This dog won’t hunt, but it will sing, dance, snore and react to light, sound and touch.

The Poo-Chi will cost less than US$30, said Marc Rosenberg, vice-president of corporate communications at Hasbro.

“We think that it’s really important to have a price point that makes a product readily available,” he said. The price made the Poo-Chi a hot item when it was introduced in Japan in April – more than 100,000 of the critters sold in the first three hours they were available.

Not only does the pup react to your touch, like the Furby, it thrives under it. It will also interact with other Poo-Chis that it sees. “They’ll sing songs back and forth and can even scare each other,” Rosenberg said.

IDG News Service took a couple of the digital doggies for a test run (well, a test sit, because they don’t move except to stand up, sit down and dance to bark-eoke). We enjoyed the pets. Our Poo-Chis sang with each other at first, but then one of them got mad and growled at the other – who backed down in deference. They aren’t very mobile and require a lot of attention – but that’s the point, right?