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A snoring robot Labrador puppy stole my whole heart at CES 2020

por Beatrice Culbert (2020-03-09)


1*Rn0W98PhyZJPZThEC80Mqw.pngid="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> Jennie and I -- now total besties. Angela Lang/CNET This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor dominoqq and the hottest new tech gadgets around. It's love at first sight. The small golden Labrador curled up on the corner of the stage tilts her head and waggles her ears. The Lab's name is Jennie, and she's a dog who also happens to be a robot.

In my heart of hearts, I'm fully aware that Jennie isn't real, and yet I'm drawn to her just as I'm drawn to real dogs whenever I pass one on the street. I've come to this talk at CES in Las Vegas because I saw a picture of Jennie on the internet and knew she would be here. Jennie is the creation of Tom Stevens, founder and CEO of robotics startup Tombot, and she was made in collaboration with the Jim Henson Company. Stevens was inspired to make a realistic robotic lab when his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and had her dog taken away.

"My mom's story isn't unique," he says speaking during the CES conference on Tuesday. Seniors with dementia derive a great deal of comfort from their pets, he adds, but as the disease progresses they often become increasingly unable to care for them. As Stevens is talking, Jennie calms down and drifts off to sleep. When she starts snoring, I let out an audible "ahhh." I can't wait to get close to her, and I'm not the only one.

Jennie responds to being stroked and petted. Angela Lang/CNET With CES in full swing, most people you encounter roaming the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center are bleary-eyed and listless. Only the rare exhibit incites enough interest for a crowd to form and pull their phones out to film or take photos. Rarer still is the kind of genuine excitement that causes eyes to light up and broad smiles to appear on people's faces.

In Jennie, I've found one of those rare exceptions. As we try to find a quiet spot to photograph Jennie and capture her moves on video, Stevens warns me that it might be hard -- wherever Jennie goes, people come over to see her, he says. He throws a cloth over her while we move her to a better location, but once he uncovers her again, it's like moths to a flame. Stevens, looking on like a proud father, is happy for Jennie to have all the attention in the world.

He steps back to give people space to interact with her and answers all questions with a grin on his face. "What's the company responsible for this dog?" demands one man. "Can I pet her?" a woman inquires. "Where can I buy one of these? How much?" says another. "My daughter would love this." He tells her that Jennie is available for preorder and costs $449 (about £345 or AU$655), but if she joins the waitlist she can buy one for just $399.