Sony’s aibo robotic dog can sit, fetch and learn what its owner likes

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Aibo, a $2,899 robotic dog from Sony, just might scamper its way onto some wish lists this holiday season.

Hoping to replicate the dog’s popularity in Japan — where the electronic pets have a rabid following — Sony is unleashing a limited-edition litter of aibo robotic dogs in the United States by the end of the year.

The aibo has OLEDs for eyes — like those used in Sony’s television displays — a camera in its nose and on its back, plus sensors on its back, head and chin that allow it to feel you petting it. It also has microphones, actuators and other technology that when combined with artificial intelligence allow the robotic companion to learn its owner’s behavior and react accordingly.

Aibo owners will need patience. It was sometimes slow to respond and didn’t sit when I asked it to, somewhat like my real dog at home. But it also danced when I asked it to, unlike my real dog, Sherman, whose only care in the world is playing with a ball.

“AI makes the decision,” said Angel Vizcarra, senior marketing specialist for Sony and aibo’s favorite person in the newsroom conference room, where the demo took place this week. “He may say no” to some of the many commands its owner issues, Vizcarra said. For now, the dog can handle about 30 commands, including “sing,” “high five,” and “bang bang” — after which it rolls over and plays dead.

Some of the commands are customizable. For example, Vizcarra asked aibo to “learn,” then grabbed its paws and moved them back and forth a few times. Having learned the pattern, the dog then proceeded to repeat the same motions.

Sony has sold 20,000 of the dogs in Japan but isn’t saying how many will be available in the United States this year. The company is asking those interested to sign up on its website now to be alerted when pre-orders start this month. Delivery is expected by the holidays.

“Not that many people are going to buy a $3,000 robotic dog,” said Bob O’Donnell of Bay Area-based TECHnalysis Research. “But from what they’ve told me, it’s the beginning of more things to expect from them on the robotics side.”

For the hefty price tag, owners of the pup get the aibo — powered by a Qualcomm chip — that becomes one of a kind as you interact with it, plus an accessory bundle that includes a ball, a bone, paw pads and a dog tag. The aibo can “play” for about three hours before it can sense it needs to go to its bed, a.k.a. its battery charger, which is also included.

Each dog also comes with a three-year AI Cloud Plan, with AT&T providing the internet connection. The dog has to be connected to the cloud, hosted by Amazon, so it can work the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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