What do you get when you mix a Unicorn and a Nexus One? I’ve got no idea – but if you put an iPhone and Furby together, you get a Xachi pet. Announced last week at the American International Toy Fair, a Xachi (pronounced “ZAH-chee”) Pet is an iPhone-controlled toy. It looks kind of like a Furby with a giant LED screen in place of its face. And, yes, you interface with your Xachi Pet through your iPhone/iPod.
It’s pretty a simple concept, but it’s the first time I’ve seen someone pull it off. The closest thing to an iPhone-enabled toy on the market is a helicopter with your iPhone as a remote control, and that’s not exactly cute and cuddly.
The Xachi Pet is produced by Taptic Toys, and is not yet in production. They expect it to cost $40 or less. It’s got an 8-bit speaker, an accelerometer, robotic legs that can dance, and a LED screen for animation. Similar to a Tomagachi, you track and maintain its hunger, thirst, health, and happiness from your iPod/iPhone – you can feed it, give it water and play with it to keep it happy.
You can also play games with your Xachi Pet. I got to try out a few and found them to be enjoyable, and I can see a youngster absolutely loving this thing. There’s a game where you use your iPhone as a bubble blaster and try to burst the bubbles on the Xachi Pet’s screen. Another game lets you control the Xachi Pet so it dances to the tune of a track on your phone. There are learning games (like simple math or spelling games), and the possibilities go on.
Three of Taptic Toys’ four founders met at Battle Bots, a brutal competition where teams create robots that try to massacre each other in an enclosed arena. Yes, this is the same Battle Bots you watched with glee on Comedy Central 10 years ago.
Is there a market full of kids with iPod Touches? According to Admob’s report, over 65% of iPod Touch owners are 17 and under — so there just might be. I don’t know jack about what kids like to do these days, but my inclination is that Xachi Pets has a lot going for it. It looks like a Furby, feels like a stuffed animal, and has the added cool factor of being iPod Touch-friendly. It’ll be interesting to see how kids take to it, but for now, let us know what you think in the comments section.