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September 6, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Tamagotchi gets Extreme Makeover

The humble tamagotchi has been upstaged by the Tardigotchi, a new digital pet created by researchers from Victoria University.

The Tardigotchi, developed by a team comprising Victoria University’s Doug Easterly and Tiago Rorke, and Matt Kenyon from Penn State University, took out the top prize at Brazil’s Electronic Language International Festival (FILE) in late July.

The Tardigotchi is in many ways similar to 1990s fad the tamagotchi, but with a twist—inside the Tardigotchi is a living microorganism.

“The look and feel is kind of Tamagotchi meets Harry Potter,” Easterly says.

The Tardigotchi has three main components: a portable brass sphere that can be carried around by its owner, a docking station, and software.

The owner of a Tardigotchi looks after the microorganism (called a tardigrade) and a virtual creature at the same time. The virtual component is an avatar of the tardigrade, it may react with independent behaviour, but also reacts directly to the tardigarde’s activity.

When the user feeds the virtual pet with by pressing a button, this action literally feeds the tardigrade with a syringe, and its avatar rubs its full belly.

Easterly says the Tardigotchi brings to light a number of issues.

“Tardigotchi raises interesting questions, such as whether interaction with an electronic device can lead to emotional attachment.

“It also serves as a reminder for the special place humans have in communing with other animals, perhaps equally for artificial ones.”

More information and a video of the Tardigotchi can be found at www.tardigotchi.com.

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