The Dino Pet is a dinosaur-shaped night light that uses bioluminescence to create a glowing effect at night time, but only if kids have looked after their pet by giving it plenty of sunlight during the day.
The Dino Pet is currently looking for his or her first owners via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.
I've always been fascinated by bioluminescence and I think most kids are too. Yonder Biology who have designed the Dino Pet are hoping to get kids to take an interest in biology and the applications of the science behind natural phenomena to improve our future. Definitely a worthy cause.
It's a practical idea too. Lots of kids like to have some kind of night-light in their rooms at night. And lots of kids want a pet to take care of, but many modern lifestyles aren't conducive to taking care of a traditional pet.
Electronic pets are one option that is proving very popular, but the Dino Pet is an interesting idea that doesn't need electricity.
The Dino Pets just need daily exposure to sunlight (but not direct sunlight) to recharge. A cool feature of the dinoflagellates using (in addition to having an awesome name) is that they bioluminesce in response to shaking. Kids will definitely appreciate that feature.
Yonder Biology say that the bioluminesce should last for 1-3 months, but you can extend that indefinitely by feeding them special food. And you'll be able to get replacement dinoflagellates if you need them.
As it happens we're currently trying to grow some Triops (tiny crustaceans) which my older son received as a birthday gift. We've also been having fun with Hexbug Aquabots. So the idea of a low-maintenance tech pet definitely appeals.
For bit more information on bioluminescence try this cool TED video from Leslie Kenna.
It mentions a couple of features that are useful for the Dino Pet.
Bioluminescence doesn't make things get hot (handy for a kids night light.)
It comes from replenishable sources and may provide an alternative source of energy. Now clearly the amount of energy you save by using a Dino Pet is very small. But where could this technology go in future? Exposing kids to ideas like this at a young age might spark an interest that leads them to make brilliant scientific developments in future.
There's also an optional extra story book to accompany the Dino Pet. The story book introduces bioluminescence to kids. This is a great idea and I think it's necessary to make sure that kids get to appreciate what's special about their pet.
Yonder Pets say that the dinoflagellates they use are non-toxic, but obviously they don't recommend eating them.
You can choose various different reward options starting from $30 for early bird pledges for the Dino Pet with delivery planned for April 2014.
Pledge: Dino Pet on Kickstarter