(with apologies to a certain 60's cartoon)
Not a soft furry friend, this is a round rover with multiple functions just beneath its resilient translucent spherical surface. These critters, connected by wireless modems, comprise a distributed network as well as, perhaps, a new species: Pet Modems or "Pet'ems."
Pet'ems are a child's new companion. These inflated bioplastic spheres are covered partially with photovoltaics (for a power source) and partially with interactive e-paper like displays. Each child user ("Chuser") can design and endlessly redesign their Pet'em's surface display, individualizing them with their tags, with pictures of idols, or their own artwork. Their Pet'em can communicate with any other Pet'em to make play dates, play multiple (ch)user games, exchange music, or help with homework. Pet'ems can record Chusers' messages to each other and play them back on their surface displays or through speakers, as well as play back group performances. In fact, multiple Pet'ems can record performances from different angles for future editing.
Using gyroscopic internal movement, the spheres are able to roll along everywhere with their Chusers. As they roll, the inside air pressure protects the electronics. At rest, the gyroscope keeps the PVs facing sunward and the displays correctly oriented. Super Pet'ems have miniature fans, giving them the ability to levitate or climb stairs.
Pet'ems are equipped with GPS so parents can locate wayward children. Each Pet'em is "trained" to remain near its Chuser and to communicate with parents or authorities in emergencies. Pet'ems can also augment the Amber Alert system, communicating with each other to form Pet'em posses and help locate missing children.
And when children become fed up with the adult overlords (and their questionable decisions both in parenting children and the planet), they and their Pet'ems can participate in SATI, the distributed computing Search for Adult Terrestrial Intelligence.
© David Bergman 2002