Wirelessly powered robo-fish need no maintenance

A high-tech aquarium holds robotic fish that feed off wireless power, glow, and swim about in a sealed tank.

The Capsule
This render shows what the final product is expected to look like. Sphere

Fish are entertaining pets, but they require maintenance like feeding, regular tank cleanings, and the occasional health check. If you like the idea of a small colorful creature swimming around, but don't want to deal with the care, then the Capsule could be what you're looking for. It's a sealed spherical tank full of water and a robot fish (called the LumiPuff) that gains its power through the wireless induction charger built into the base.

A mobile app for the fish syncs to the aquarium to let you change settings and access gaming opportunities. The fish can be named and their colors changed from the app. The fish can also be set to flash when you receive a smartphone notification, which is actually pretty nifty.

There's a bit of a Tamagotchi aspect to the app game. When the fish gets "hungry," the lights start to turn off. If you're a neglectful robo-fish parent, your colorful fish will lose its glow. Fail to feed it for long enough and it will stop moving. Yes, you just killed your robotic fish and you're an awful human being. Restarting the game will bring your fish back to life.

Even without the app, you can still have fun with the fish. A vibration sensor lets the fish know when you tap on the tank so it can react to your attention. Thanks to the wireless charging system, you never have to pull your fish out to charge it up, it just keeps going.

The Capsule holds a rather unusual Guinness World Record for "first wireless induction-powered aquatic toy." It's an oddly specific record, but it's a record nonetheless. It's also the kind of record that isn't likely to be broken, unless someone comes along and proves she made an induction-powered shark before the Capsule was invented.

Sphere, the company behind the Capsule, has creating a prototype of the bowl and robo-fish. According to the company's timeline, it intends to ship the Capsule by the middle of 2015. The gadget is expected to be available for pre-order early next year for $170, though the price will rise to its regular level of $270. Yes, that is pretty expensive for a fake fish, but at least you can impress your friends by telling them your robo-fish holds a Guinness World Record.

I went outside to my small pond to interview the resident Shubunkin goldfish about their views on potentially being replaced by robot substitutes, but they had no comment.

Capsule prototype
A selection of close-ups of the Capsule prototype. Sphere

About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.

 

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