You take him with you everywhere, you show him to your friends, you talk to him and would be wrecked if anything happened to him. I’m talking about your iPhone. Of course, not even the most complex smartphone is really a “him.” It’s an “it.” But when you think about all the attention we give our phones, they might as well be pets. Bandai, the Japanese company that brought us our beloved Tamagotchis so many years ago, has just introduced a product that indeed can turn your phone into a virtual dog. This small, four-footed device has a slot that snugly fits an iPhone where the dog’s face should be. Basically, for about $80, you can have a new best friend. And a reason to coo at your phone more than you already do. Using an application on the iPhone, the dog’s “owner” can teach it tricks, play games with it, or just hang out to foster that oh-so-special dog-owner bond. Pros:
- Training your dog to wait until he is outside to relieve himself is often a frustrating process. This is as mess-free as it gets. No accidents in the house, no cleanup, no smell.
- You don’t have to walk the dog, ever.
- You can waltz right into any restaurant or grocery store with your auto-Fido in tow, and nobody will ask you to leave. You can even put him on the table.
- For those living alone in small apartments, Smart Pet can provide that extra bit of companionship you seek while only taking up the space of a small handbag.
- Owning this pet/toy will continue to decrease the ability of humans to interact with actual living things.
- iPhones are incapable of giving unconditional love.
- If you drop it on the floor, it will not shake off and forget about it. It will just die.
- It is not good at snuggling.
This seems like a great solution for people who desperately want a puppy but don’t necessarily have the time or money to become a dog owner anytime soon. I had a few Tamagotchis when the toys first came out, and I certainly enjoyed playing with them. Unlike our family dog, this pet was all mine to care for…until the battery died- then I forgot about them. Looking back, I can see the benefits of this type of technology: reinforcing the notions of empathy and responsibility in kids. However, growing up with (living) pets had a huge and positive impact on my family dynamics and who I am. I doubt that a piece of plastic with an off-switch could have produced similar results. Then again, many kids spend more time with iPhones these days than they do hanging out with anything that might have a heartbeat, let alone floppy ears and a tail. Maybe this gateway dog could introduce them to the joys of interacting with a non-pixelated world.