In the tradition of Garfield, Morris and that hat-wearing feline penned by Theodore Geisel (alias Dr. Seuss), comes the iCat from Philips.
The research division of the Dutch consumer electronics manufacturer this week announced the follow-on to its Dimi smart companion robot.
The cute little yellow desktop robot stands about 15 inches high with movable eyebrows, eyes, eyelids, mouth and head.
The head has a camera inside that can recognize objects and faces. Each foot contains a microphone to record sounds, perform speech recognition and determine the direction of the sound source.
Finally, touch sensors and multicolor LEDs are installed in the feet and ears to sense whether the user touches the robot.
But whereas other pet robots like Sony's Aibo sits, stands, yaps and runs around like a real dog, iCat is very much like a real cat. It just sits there and makes faces at you. Cats by nature are particularly active animals, except perhaps for the famous Dancing Cat.
Philips Research is making a limited edition of the iCat robot with the Open Platform for Personal Robotics development software. These platforms are available at a "no profit" price to universities and research laboratories for research purposes only.