HANGZHOU, China (Sept. 19, 2019) – YUKAI Engineering Inc., a Tokyo-based robotics startup known for creating robots that bring joy to life, has been selected for an honorable mention in the Frontier Technology category in the 2019 Design Intelligence Award (DIA) for the therapeutic robotic pillow, Qoobo. The DIA, which is China’s global industrial design contest, draws thousands of entries from around the world each year. Yukai is expected to receive a trophy for the DIA honor at the award ceremony Sept. 20 in Hangzhou.
WHAT: Yukai Engineering to be recognized at Design Intelligence Award (DIA) Award Ceremony
WHEN: Sept. 20, 2019
WHERE: Hangzhou, China
The DIA recognition comes as Yukai aims to release Qoobo in additional countries and regions, following its commercial success in Japan and the U.S. The robot is designed to provide a sense of comfort in the way animals do to those who cannot own pets, including allergy sufferers and apartment dwellers. A recent independent study on the efficacy of the use of Qoobo by seniors showed positive effects on the users’ well-being. The DIA, which was co-founded in 2015 by China’s academic, industrial and government organizations, evaluates entries based on the products’ functionality, aesthetics, user experience, impact on society and respective industries, and “contribution to humanity, industry and the future,” among other criteria.
“We are thrilled to receive this honor from the prestigious DIA program,” Yukai Engineering CEO Shunsuke Aoki said. “Our engineers carefully studied several different animals and their tails, and created a mechanism that closely mimics the common features of the tail movements. It is truly exciting that the DIA judges recognized our creativity and engineering ingenuity, as well as our commitment to enriching the quality of people’s lives through the power of technology,”
Qoobo is a robotic pillow with a lifelike tail that makes realistic moves in response to the user’s stroking and rubbing. It is designed to comfort people who cannot own a pet, including allergy sufferers, apartment-dwellers and busy professionals. Qoobo became one of the most talked-about gadgets on the internet following its unveiling at CEATEC Japan on Oct. 3, 2017, netting more than 10 million online video views. The Kickstarter campaign for Qoobo in late 2017 raised 247 percent of the goal amount (approx. $110,000 USD). It is now available for purchase in both the U.S. and Japan.
● Flexible tail that gently waves when caressed, playfully swings when rubbed
● Sometimes wags spontaneously to call user’s attention
● Simple communication method that helps user develop bond with robot
Story Behind Qoobo
The idea for Qoobo came from a YUKAI staff designer who wished to have something waiting for her to come home at the end of a long work day while living in a pet-free apartment. Drawing inspiration from an animal’s tail, YUKAI created a robot that communicates solely through tail movements – without relying on sounds or facial expressions – to comfort humans in just the way cats and dogs would. The company’s engineers studied the animal tail and created a mechanism that closely mimics its movements. Qoobo has been recognized for numerous awards, including the “Best 100” in Good Design Award (Japan).
Sponsored by the China Academy of Fine Arts and the China Industrial Design Association with the support of the Zhejiang provincial government, the DIA is an academic award program focusing on industrial design intended to provide a platform for promoting creativity and innovations through the “fusion” of technology and art, according to the program’s website. The DIA’s judging panel evaluates entries on the products’ functionality, aesthetics, user experience, impact on society and respective industries, and “contribution to humanity, industry and the future,” among other criteria.