Stuff/NZPA: Digital pets come alive

A next-gen Tamagotchi has been developed by VUW researchers and a US colleague, and features a living microorganism (a Tardigrade) in a plastic casing, with which its owners can interact both virtually and in real life.

The project, called the Tardigotchi, was awarded first prize in the digital language category at the 2010 Electronic Language International Festival (FILE) in Brazil, and aims to look at how people interact emotionally with both real and artificial animals.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“The Tardigotchi has a portable sphere, a docking station and software. The owner has to look after the microorganism – called a tardigrade – and virtual pet at the same time.

“Tardigrades are microscopic animals with eight legs.

“By pushing a button on the sphere, the owner can feed the virtual pet. This in turn literally feeds the tardigrade microorganism with a syringe. Once the tardigrade is fed, the virtual creature shows off its full belly in an animated sequence.

“Sending an email to the virtual character triggers a real heat lamp on the sphere for the tardigrade, while the virtual character reclines and soaks up animated sun rays.”