If you have kids, it's inevitable that they will eventually ask you for a puppy. Sure, it sounds easy to say 'No,' and we all know they won't make good on their promise to take the dog out every day to use the bathroom. But darn it, it's also all to easy to give in. Or you could come up with a compromise and buy a toy puppy, like Sony's redesigned Aibo, which definitely won't pee on the carpet.
The new version is the sixth generation puppy from Sony. It was first introduced way back in 1999. Unlike previous models, the retooled companion pairs "cutting-edge robotics" with a cloud-powered artificial intelligence (AI) engine. It also boasts advanced image sensors, giving Aibo the ability to learn and recognize faces, Sony says.
"This is truly a one-of-a-kind product designed to connect with its owners on an emotional level," said Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics North America. "Aibo's charming personality, dog-like behaviors and ability to intelligently interact with family members help to create a personal bond. Bringing aibo back to the US reflects Sony's broader commitment to provide consumers with products that not only entertain them, but also enrich their lives."
In short, Aibo is designed to be more like a real-life puppy than ever before. As users interact with Aibo, it develops its own unique personality. Aibo actually remembers what interactions makes its owners happy, which in turn enables it to develop a deeper bond, despite being made of plastic and metal bits.
No two Aibo companions are exactly the same, either.
"Each owner's approach to raising their Aibo shapes its personality, behavior and knowledge, creating a unique environment for growth. In fact, Aibo is able to learn new tricks through owners' interactions, experiences with changing seasons and different events. Not content to sit and wait to be beckoned, aibo will actively seek out its owners and can recognize their faces," Sony says.
Aibo recognizes words of praise and smiles, and reacts to being pet or scratched on the head. Inside the robotic companion are a bunch of sensors, cameras, and actuators to bring the pup to life. It's armed with 1- and 2-axis sensors, and can move along a total of 22 axes.
Owning a lifelike robotic canine companion does not come cheap, however—it will be available to purchase next month for $2,899. It comes with an accessory bundle and a three-year AI cloud plan, the latter of which will presumably cost extra after the free period expires.