Does anyone else remember Gigi Pets? The little key chain deal with an LCD, super pixelated pet on it where you were had to feed it, put it to sleep and basically help it survived day-to-day (think Farmville, but only one pet). Anyway, I recently became made aware of what I would call the next generation’s Gigi Pet, called Ubooly (I know, not exactly Made in America). This new toy + app combo basically takes it all up a notch.
These are plush toys that you can slide your old iPod, iPhone, iWhatever in and, by running an app, your smart drive becomes the interactive face of the plush character.
There are three activities in the Ubooly app – the bedroom, dreams, and awake time. You start in your Ubooly’s bedroom. You can decorate the bedroom to your liking, but items to decorate are only available for purchase with earned coins or as in-app purchases. There are bedroom items Easter eggs that can earn you coins too!
You can also “adopt your Ubooly (for the low, low price of the toy purchase for $29.95) to “wake him up from his dreams”. When you wake up your Ubooly, the entire iPhone screen will become the face. The bedroom and dreams are still available to play, the “awake time” is yet another activity inside the app.
In the awake time, Ubooly will genuinely communicate with the child. It’s like Siri for children, stuffed instead a cute orange creature! Ubooly can ask the child what he or she wants to do, tell choose-your-own-adventure stories, offer pretend play ideas, play music, and tell jokes.
Moreover, the Ubooly will learn your child’s play patterns and favorite activities so that over time, it can tailor its awake time to match the child’s preferences and interests.
In the end, thirty dollars sounds like a lot of money in the world of 99 cent apps, but this one definitively delivers on interactivity. However, there are a lot of video games that offer much more content for the same price, so you have to judge whether the coolness factor of carrying a conversation with a plush toy is worth of risk of missing out on future content if the company fails to deliver.
Ubooly can really be more of a friend than an app, and that is pretty cool.