Ford's Quiet Kennel
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Bizarre Tech: soundproofed dog kennel, Elfkin the smart toy and dog selfie maker

Image credit: Ford Quiet Kennel

New year, new gadgets to mock. This time we have a satanic doll, a dog selfie generator, and a firework-proof pooch kennel

‘Smart’ robot toy

Yeah, no thanks.

This slightly satanic robot is 25cm of pure nightmare fuel. The Elfkin, which looks like it would suck your soul out with one glance, is dubbed ‘your child’s first social network’. It takes recorded messages that you send through the app, and plays them.

You can customise your messages so it can wave, kiss, cheer and gesticulate wildly, among other super-useful expressions. Like blinking. And opening and closing its mouth. When it does speak, the mechanism makes a clicking noise, just to add to the charm.

It’s connected to Wi-Fi, making it a smart device, so it updates and grows with your kid. Let’s hope not literally, because that would be even worse. Imagine an adult-sized version...

If you don’t know how to handle this piece of tech, the Elfkin can show you through a tutorial. Neat!

For the messages, you can use your own voice or a vocal phrase from the bot. The ear lights up when there is one to be played. Your kid then presses the play button on the foot to hear your voice through the blue toy from hell.

Messages are encrypted for security and you can set do-not-disturb periods so it doesn’t wake your wee one during the night.

All messages played by the slightly better-looking Chuckie-style doll are pre-approved by the administrator – that’s you, the parent. The app, which only works with an iPhone, can also be used as a photo-sharing platform and group messenger.

Elfkin can even give you and your kids some activities to do, which is fun. Right?

If two children have Elfkins, they can send messages to each other, as long as parents approve on the app. I would say that’s a bit controlling, but hey, who am I to judge how one protects their children from the outside world? That’s right, with a nightmare-inducing doll. My bad.

Pooch selfie

Make it look like it loves you, for God’s sake.

Get your doggo to stay still while you take a half-decent snapshot with this gadget from Firebox.

As we know, it’s very hard to make a child sit still for a photo, let alone an animal. Especially if your pet is immune to treat blackmail.

You’ve probably figured out that dogs are the best. Better than humans, that’s for sure. But at least people can stay still for a bit when you want to get a selfie.

How to solve this pet conundrum? Pooch Selfie! It fits right on top of your phone and will keep your dog focused long enough for you to pull off the selfie of a lifetime... ish.

The bright tennis ball will be right up your doggo’s street, holding its attention as you press the capture button, so you hopefully will look slightly presentable in at least one photo.

The ball squeaks too if your dog is colour-blind (get it?! Because they are). If they don’t like the new toy, you can swap it out for their favourite one.

Pooch Selfie is pretty much a guarantee to keep your mutt still long enough for you to take a picture – you just have to keep your trigger finger nimble otherwise you might miss it.

Soundproofed dog kennel

Say what?

Save your dog from unnecessary stress at New Year as you give them a soundproofed, triangular bed to rest their weary heads in.

We all know that fireworks and loud bangs can startle man’s best friend to the point of severe stress. According to the RSPCA, about 45 per cent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.

I have seen the effects of New Year celebrations on dogs, and it’s not good. However, there are ways to help.

For example, there is the Thundershirt, a super-tight ‘t-shirt’ you put on your pooch if there are loud, sudden noises. This can help reduce your fluffball’s anxiety. However, this isn’t a guarantee.

We used to put our hound in the garage with the radio turned up to a ridiculous volume when fireworks were going off. It definitely lessened the trauma. Not sure what it did to her ears, mind you.

Ford has come up with a pretty cool idea to reduce the outside noises, instead of creating louder ones to drown out the offending claps and whizzbangs. It’s a sound­proofed kennel for your pooch, which looks very ‘Star Trek’ and pretty comfy, too.

It uses the noise-cancelling technology found in head­phones and cars, which Ford says protects canines’ sensitive ears. There’s a video of it in action on Ford's website.

Microphones inside the kennel – which is a prototype, so it’s not available for future festivities, unfortunately – detect the sound of fireworks. A built-in audio system then emits opposing frequencies that cancel out the noise – or at least reduce it significantly.

The kennel is made of high-​density cork, ideal for sound­proofing. Just make sure your beloved pooch doesn’t chew it out of boredom.

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