Smartbone? Is this your lead-in to a terrible pun?
No, it’s an actual thing. A dog-owning engineer wanted to make life better for dogs who, for whatever reason, don’t have anyone able to play with them for long stretches of the day. He reasoned that rather than a dog being lonely or trying to figure out how many pieces it could chew the rug into, it’d be better off with a bone-shaped robo-pal.
So how does it work?
If you’re away from home, you can stuff some treats into the GoBone’s wheels, and it’ll trundle about, encouraging your dog to play. The unit can be optimised to your dog’s weight, age, breed and size, and will sleep when being interacted with, so it doesn’t knock the dog’s teeth out.
And is there an app for that?
Not the teeth bit, no, but there’s one for using the GoBone when you’re home. You can check usage stats, win achievements, video while you play, and play a couple of pre-set games.
GoBone Fetch has you launch GoBone across the room with a bowling-like gesture from your smartphone. The dog then brings it back. Possibly. And then there’s GoBone Hide and Seek. The GoBone waits to be found, and then springs to life when the dog’s on top of it, rather unsportingly zooming away.
Won’t that annoy the dog, who’ll take out toothy, chewy revenge?
Perhaps, but the mechanical engineer on the team designed products for the military, and so knows a thing or two about tough tech. With GoBone, the core sits inside a removable shell, and the wheels can be taken off, too. The exterior can be swapped for different parts if it gets too worn or Fido will refuse to play with anything that’s not coloured orange at weekends.
The design team’s certain the GoBone will last, and has performed thousands of hours of testing with hundreds of dogs, many living in animal shelters.
Yeah. As they note, GoBone could be a literal life-saver for many such dogs. It gives them mental stimulation, bringing out their personalities and thereby making them more adoptable. And if you don’t have at least the slightest lip-wobble at that part of the promo video, you may well be dead inside.
OK, so where can I buy one?
GoBone’s on Kickstarter, and has already reached its funding goal. You can buy a single GoBone for $149 (around S$200), or double your pledge and have a second unit donated to an animal shelter.
But hang on: what happens when smartbones team up with all the dogs and take over the world?
We at Stuff welcome our new furry overlords.