It was designed by Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of Japan's AIST beginning in 1993. It was first exhibited to the public in late 2001, became a Best of COMDEX finalist in 2003,, The Canadian Press, January 11, 2009
The robot has tactile sensors and responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes. It also responds to sounds and can learn a name. It can show emotions such as surprise, happiness and anger. It produces sounds similar to a real baby seal and (unlike a real baby seal) is active during the day and goes to sleep at night.