More than a billion downloads of the Talking Friends apps – Talking Tom Cat, Talking Ginger and their friends – shows there’s an appetite out there for playful virtual pet apps.
The latest example is Looksi Pups, a physical toy kennel with a companion app that’s trying to raise £20,000 on crowdfunding website Kickstarter.
It’s pitched as “a voice-activated virtual puppy who does everything a real dog does”. The twist is that the kennel accessory comes with a holder for your iPhone which, when it’s placed inside, displays the virtual pooch in 3D (using some cleverness with mirrors) on the side windows.
The app itself reminds us of an old favourite, Nintendogs, in the way you care for your pet pooch while teaching it commands and playing mini-games.
The team behind Looksi Pups sent us an early version of the kennel to test out, and it works very well. Well, it did once we’d explained to our two boys that the virtual dog only responds to 15 specific voice commands – which it has to be trained to recognise – and “do a poo!” isn’t one of them.
There are seven breeds of dog to choose from – your child can name their pet too – and lots of outfits, toys and tricks to unlock. The kennel itself feels robust enough to cope with not-so-gentle children, and it comes with a set of stickers to personalise it.
On Kickstarter, being one of the first 100 people pledging to pay £15 if the campaign is successful will get you one of the first run of Looksi Pup kennels, with the basic price then going up to £20.
Pledging £30 gets you a limited-edition green-roofed kennel, and there are progressively more-expensive levels of pledge with more rewards, right up to £3,000 to have your real-life puppy recreated within the app.
There are 24 days to go in the Kickstarter campaign, and so far Looksi Pups has raised just over £1,500, so there’s work to do in order to get it funded. We’ll keep you posted on its progress.
In the meantime, you can check out the free Looksi Pups iPhone app on the App Store for a taste of what’s on offer.