Here's one of the weirdest, most pointless and oddly spellbinding uses for your iPhone -- a plastic kennel that uses mirrors to project the image of a tiny, virtual dog. It's Looksi Pups, folks! Click through the photos above to check it out.
The Looksi Pups kennel works in tandem with a Tamagotchi-style free app that puts you in charge of a make-believe canine -- we called ours Dogfeatures -- that you must care for.
You can tend to Dogfeatures your dog by feeding and watering it, earning you bones, which you spend on toys and treats for the faithful hound. The real entertainment however kicks off when you slide your phone into the plastic Looksi Pups kennel, which uses laminated acrylic mirrors to project a vision of your hound into the front -- and side -- of the dog house.
You can train the dog to receive to voice commands, which we found worked surprisingly well, putting Siri's voice-recognition to shame.
The crowd-funding effort has 27 days to go and so far has raised £1,445, so there's a long road ahead before this plastic oddity enters the realm of the real. You can download the app for free now though, if you like.
Although we thought we'd wrung all the fun out of the Looksi Pups kennel and app, we later found a hidden depth to the toy, as we uncovered a guard dog mode that sets your hound noisily yapping when he hears intruders, and an alarm feature that made Dogfeatures start yapping at an appointed time. To turn the alarm off though, you need to fish your phone out of the kennel.
The app. We found it to be rather glitchy -- it's near-impossible to pick up on-screen bones or dog poo -- and we experienced one or two crashes. Some of the dogs currently look a bit creepy, and running the app also made my iPhone turn very hot indeed.
It feels little unfair to criticise an app that's still trying to get funding to be made into something proper. The more permanent issue is that to play with Looksi Pups, you have to confine your iPhone to a plastic kennel, which is not that useful if it rings, or if you want to check Twitter. Most kids probably don't have iPhone access, so they'll be clamouring to borrow yours and lock it inside a pink plastic prison.
Nevertheless, in a world of ruthlessly samey smart phones and identikit tablets, the endearingly pointless Looksi Pups managed to hold the interest of the entire CNET UK staff, which is saying something.
Will you invest in Looksi Pups, or can you think of better things to do with your phone than locking it inside a pink plastic kennel? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.