The day when cosplayers can strut down the aisle at the next cosplay convention in autonomously-moving nekomimi (cat ears) and a matching shippo (tail) isn’t too far off. That is, if Shota Ishiwatari’s “Taily” kickstarter project manages to reach its pledge goal of 60,000 Euros by 6 January next year.
In fact, this day could come as early as August 2013. That’s when Ishiwatari expects to complete a retail version of Taily – a robotic tail whose swinging and wagging movements change depending on the rate of your heartbeat, which it detects via a sensor belt that users strap to their waist – and ship out 3,000 pieces to the Kickstarter project’s backers.
Currently there is already a brainwave-controlled pair of autonomously-moving cat ears out on the market – NeuroSky/Neurowear’s Necomimi, which Ishiwatari says he had a hand in helping developed.
Taily the robotic cat tail is meant as a complement accessory to Nekomimi, and at launch Ishiwatari is thinking of making the product be available in four colours (White, Black, Gray, and Golden Brown). The tail part of the accessory is interchangeable, however, so users will be able to swap it out for other colours.
Of course, no Kickstarter project is possible without risks. Especailly not with an expensive project like this one that involves a massive amount of manufacturing work.
In Taily’s case, Ishiwatari has highlighted two risks and challenges that a product of this nature faces – the accuracy of which heart rate can be measured, and durability to ensure that the product itself will not easily break – that he hopes to improve upon in the product design and, eventually, manufacturing phases (currently it appears that he already has a working prototype).
From Taily’s Kickstarter page:
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
There are always risks involved in designing and manufacturing new products. We would like to take on the challenge of overcoming these risks, and we feel that there are two major challenges with “Tailly”:
1) Measuring heart rate
With the prototype we were successful in measuring our heart beat, but we cannot guarantee that it will work with people of all ages, body types and races in all living conditions.
We aim to develop “Tailly” so that it can be used by as many people as possible, but since this is not a project for developing medical equipment, it might not function perfectly under all conditions.
2) The strength of the product.
We are carrying out our product design and looking into trial production, and we are giving careful thought to the strength of the product, but since “Tailly” is built with plastic and motors there is a limit to its strength – we can’t guarantee that “Tailly” will not break if handled roughly or if you sit down awkwardly whilst wearing it, although we will do our best to try and make it as durable as possible.
We have already started thinking about product design and manufacturing, but only after the completion of the Kickstarter project will we go into full-scale action.
When deciding upon our target sum and deadline, we have done our best to allow for any delays and price fluctuations, however, we cannot deny the possibility of late delivery due to unforeseen circumstances, such as the availability of factory space or material shortages. However, if a situation like that does arise, we’ll do our best to overcome the situation as smoothly as possible.
The current prototype is holding up really well, but there are always cases in product design when concerns arise regarding the product’s durability or safety. In such cases the problematic elements must be fixed, which of course has a knock-on effect on production and delivery.
We will, of course, keep our supporters in the loop with regular updates on the production of Tailly.
For more information on Taily, and how you might be able to fund it, head over to the product’s Kickstarter project page.