What if Mark Zuckerberg's Internet-famous Puli, Beast, could fit in the palm of your hand and only bark or wag his adorable little tail when you get a Facebook like?
That's not a Facebook founder fever dream, it's the reality of a new Kickstarter project for the world's only social media robot dog: Soshee (short for "social").
Designed by animatronic master John Nolan, whose work has appeared in Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean, Soshee is a 4.5-inch tall, 10 ounce, palm-sized robot that can stand or sit, turn its head, bark, wag its tiny tail and even walk a few steps.
Soshee reps told us the choice of the Puli breed, which is distinguished by its long, thick locks, was purely coincidental. Though animated, the robo-pup can't jump in the air like Zuckerberg's Beast. Soshee inventor Jason Buzi laughed at the notion and told us "maybe version two. That's very technically difficult."
Instead, the mechanical canine connects to your phone via Bluetooth and can perform any of its actions based on social media and digital notifications and alerts. A Facebook like or reaction could get a bark. An email, a tag wiggle. A new Tweet or Instagram like? Soshee might bark or sit down.
What Soshee does is up to you and configurable in the associated mobile app (iOS and Android). There are 12 addressable actions that include individual moves like sitting and combos like tail wag and bark. The dog can also play back any other audio file you have on your phone. Unfortunately, Soshee cannot alert you to incoming calls or texts.
A successful real estate developer, Buzi has made a habit of coming up with side hustles. "Thankfully, I have a very successful real estate investing career because most of my side projects have not been lucrative," said Buzi who hopes Soshee will be the outlier.
Soshee was born out of Buzi's desire to create a cool new gadget. He thought about a robot dog, but was frustrated with how none of them looked like the real thing. So he went looking for people who could build realistic-looking animatronics and found John Nolan in London. Evidence of Nolan's incredible skill can be found here.
Buzi told Nolan he wanted to create a miniature robotic dog. They settled on the Puli breed for the look because the unusual fur would do a god job of hiding Soshee's four servo motors, which are powered by a rechargeable battery. The tiny robot should run for up to 2 hours of continuous use on one charge.
Soshee does stop short of being a true robot. It has, for instance, no sensors. Instead of responding to touch or sound, Soshee can only react to notifications from the paired phone. Buz told us, though, that they plan to open-source Soshee, so someone might be able to randomize those responses to make the robot seem a bit more lifelike.
Shipping later this year, Soshee will cost $169 and is available in the same colors as a real Hungarian Pulis: black, white and brown.