Tardigotchi: hybrid real/virtual pet

Readers of a certain age will remember the tamagotchi virtual pet craze of the late nineties, though they (like me) may be surprised to know they’re still selling strongly. Furthermore, readers who follow Futurismic closely (which is all of you, AMIRITES?) may remember me mentioning tardigrades, the microscopic critters better known as “water bears”, which bear (arf!) the odd distinction of being the only animal known to be able to survive the hard vacuum of space. What’s the connection?

The connection is the Tardigotchi, a sort of po-mo mixed-media art-project-gadget-statement-commentary item that combines a real living water bear with an artificial electronic lifeform to create a hybrid cyborg pet that can (and must!) be interacted with in a variety of ways to ensure its survival. Observe:

What does it mean? I guess that’s open to interpretation… an expression of the blurring of the line between natural and artificial lifeforms, and our relationship to them? A recognition of our increasingly emotional relationship with (and dependence on) electronic devices? Or just a wacky 3am brainstorm idea that made it into production?