Tamagotchi Virtual Pets Returning With Voice Wake-Up Control
The Tamagotchi virtual pet is returning as a smartwatch with voice commands. Bandai Namco is reissuing Tamagotchi as the Tamagotchi Smart, a voice AI-enabled smartwatch, 25 years after their initial debut as the most high-tech toy around.
Tamagotchi s were the hottest toy around when they came out in 1996. Controlled only by a few buttons, the electronic pet could be fed, cleaned, and petted until it grew up and passed away, requiring the device to be rest and a new pet born. The Tamagotchi Smart imitates the core concept, but with a lot of advances. The new Tamagotchi pet has more advanced graphics, colors and is more responsive. It is attached to a watch strap so the child wearing it can use it as a step counter. The device also has a slot for a kind of Sim care called TamaSma Cards, which can be bought to add unique accessories and characters to the Tamagotchi.
The most notable change is how the Tamagotchi now responds to voices, as touches on the screen. So far, the only voice command is to wake up the virtual pet, but Bandai Namco has hinted that more vocal commands could be a part of the toy as another card add-on. The Tamagotchi Smart costs about $60, with an approximately $10 price tag for each card, but will it will only be sold in Japan to begin with, although international shipping is available. Presumably, success there will lead to international sales in the future.
This is the latest example of Bandai Namco exploring how to apply advanced technology to its classic properties, including voice tech. Voice game developer Doppio Games worked with Bandai Namco to created Pac-Man Waka Waka, an Alexa smart display version of the arcade game that relies on voice commands in the made-up ‘Wakanese’ to control the character. Toys and games incorporating voice tech are becoming more popular in general over the last couple of years. That includes purely voice-based games like The Orpheus Device, which takes an audio dive into a haunted house, or video games like Phasmophobia, which uses player conversations to help the AI enemies track them down. Developer tools are that allow toymakers to integrate voice assistants into their products are also contributing to the mainstreaming of voice as part of a child’s interactions with their toys and games.