Yukai Engineering enters Hong Kong’s growing senior care product market.
HONG KONG (Dec. 2, 2019) — Yukai Engineering Inc., a Tokyo-based robotics startup known for creating robots that bring joy to life, has announced it will soon begin distributing its tail-wagging therapeutic pillow, Qoobo, in Hong Kong. Kerry Medical Ltd., a leading medical device distributor in Hong Kong, will serve as Yukai’s local distribution agent. The arrangement enables Yukai to bring its wildly popular pet alternative with proven therapeutic benefits to Hong Kong’s growing senior health and care product market.
Qoobo is expected to be priced at between $930-$1,000 in Hong Kong dollars.
Qoobo is a robotic pillow with a lifelike tail that makes realistic moves in response to the user’s stroking and rubbing. 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 after it was unveiled at CEATEC Japan 2017, netting more than 10 million online video views. Now available for purchase in Japan and the U.S., Qoobo continues to gain its popularity as a stress-relieving device.
The benefit of using Qoobo for senior care became clear in an independent study conducted by Kazuko Obayashi, associate professor at Nihon Fukushi University’s Business Management Department, and her research team. The results, released in September 2019, showed interacting with Qoobo not only made seniors happier and more relaxed, but also prompted them to initiate conversations with others by inviting them to play with the robot.
“”We are excited to introduce Qoobo to the consumers in Hong Kong. Qoobo can warm your heart in the way real animals do at any time anywhere. We hope this robot will help enrich the lives of the growing number of seniors in Hong Kong and all animal lovers who cannot own pets,” Yukai Engineering CEO Shunsuke Aoki said.
“Qoobo is the first product we will distribute in working with Yukai Engineering. We hope to foster a long-term relationship with Yukai to expand the local robotics market together,” Kerry Medical said in its statement. “We hope to expand Qoobo’s presence in the local market and then expand the business in the Great Bay Area and the Republic of China.”
According to Hong Kong’s government, people age 65 and older are projected to make up 31.1 percent of Hong Kong’s population by 2036, compared to 13.3 percent in 2011 and 17.9 percent in 2018t. The government is planning to construct additional new senior housing and care facilities to meet the expected growth in demand. Given the population trend as well as the high percentage of multifamily buildings in the region’s housing stock, we imagine Qoobo will be a solution to the problem with owning pets that many Hong Kong residents, especially seniors, may encounter in the coming decades.
Qoobo garnered accolades from event-goers during its demonstration at Kerry Medical’s exhibition booth at 2019 GIES (Gerontech and Innovation Expo cum Summit), a showcasing of innovative senior services and products, held from Nov. 21-24, 2019 in Hong Kong. Yukai Engineering and Kerry Medical envision providing Qoobo to senior care facilities, senior housing and hostels for the handicapped, among other potential user groups. Yukai Engineering and Kerry Medical also plan to work with the Vocational Training Group and Lingnan University, as well as health care and rehabilitation product carriers’ online stores and senior care service providers to make Qoobo available for purchase.
・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
Qoobo has been recognized for many awards, including the prestigious Red Dot Design Award (2019) and Design Intelligence Award (DIA 2019). Qoobo has enjoyed big commercial success, ranking first in the communication robot category in Amazon Japan’s “most popular products” ranking from Dec. 30, 2018 to Jah. 5, 2019.
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).
Qoobo’s Therapeutic Effects
・An independent study by Nihon Fukushi University’s Kazuko Obayashi, associate professor and her research team showed interacting with Qoobo not only made seniors happier and more relaxed, but also prompted them to initiate conversations with others by inviting them to play with the robot. (2019)
・A psychological assessment that Yukai conducted on a group of 38 people found they experienced statistically meaningful reductions in their stress levels when using Qoobo. (2019)
About Kerry Medical
Kerry Medical brings to Hong Kong and Macau healthcare professionals and innovative medical devices by partnering with world class companies which share its vision of innovating and making a real difference to people’s lives. Together with its partners and principals around the world, Kerry Medical works closely with healthcare and nursing home professionals to ensure the highest standards of patient care. Distribution of medical products is at the heart of Kerry Medical, a member company of Kerry Logistics. With over 35 years of experience, the company is committed to be a leading Hong Kong and Macau medical device company that is capable of delivering the best technologies through its high-performance team leaders and members. Kerry Medical consists of cardiovascular, rehabilitation, hospital, private clinic, engineering service, marketing, business development, RAQA, customer service, and operations teams and are the sole distributor of a number of renowned foreign principals while providing MDCO, selling & marketing and 4PL services to some of its other medical device principals.