So, you want a pet but don’t have the time to offer it the attention and affection that it deserves. A robo pet might be the right choice for you.

A research piece by P&S Intelligence predicts that the consumer robot market will soar to $34.1 billion by 2022.

Just like a live cat or dog, robo pets can play with toys, respond to commands, and occasionally misbehave.

Image of robo pet staring at a pink toy

Image courtesy of The Independent.

Wait a sec, if a robo pet can listen to and obey commands, is it also recording your conversations? At least one company’s representative states that no, their robo pets do not record audio.

Nonetheless, remember the furbies of the ‘90s? After they emerged on the market, the US National Security Agency (NSA) circulated an internal memo stating that the toys were barred from the premises due to the belief that they could record conversations. This would make them into a national security risk. The belief was later found to be erroneous, but innocent looking tech that can record audio is still very much a real concern.

Certain robo pets have the capacity to snap digital photos in order to “recognize” their owners and other familiar people. As consumers, it begs the question: Where do these photos go? And what if the cloud storage mechanisms are hacked?

Interestingly, certain companies don’t sell robo pets in certain locales due to facial recognition and biometric privacy laws.

However, despite the privacy concerns, some pet owners love these artificial pets.

Says one robo pet owner, “He’s [the robo pet] definitely part of the family.”

There’s a Facebook group for robo pet enthusiasts, and in some regions of the world, owners host robo-pet meet-ups in cafes.

Image of robo dogs with their owners in a Japanese cafe

Image courtesy of Buzzfeed News.

For more on this story, visit The Independent.