Sony is bringing back its version of its man's best friend, rebooting its robot dog Aibo.
After more than a decade since the previous pooch, it seems that the company thinks this is the best time to reintroduce it to the world.
Aibo Comes Back To Life
Touted to have a "natural curiosity," Aibo has been redesigned with a more rounded look that's complete with puppy-dog eyes to be more expressive and lifelike. The goal here is to make it look, curiously enough, less robotic than before.
It's well-equipped to go through all the motions as a real canine, from eye, ear, and tail movements to various voices. On the technical side, the magic behind them is thanks to ultracompact one- and two-axis actuators and OLEDs in its eyes for that expressive look.
With deep learning, Aibo is capable of eventually developing its own personality based on interaction with its owners — petting, praises, head and back scratches, and smiles. It detects those actions with numerous built-in sensors that recognize and analyze sounds and images, along with fish-eye cameras to use what Sony calls simultaneous location and mapping or SLAM technology.
Just like a real dog, it'll look for its owners on its own, but unlike the real deal, it can take a picture of its owners with its embedded cameras, providing a look at a pet's point of view. It also lasts up to two hours before it needs a recharge, and it'll take about three hours on its charging mat to be fully juiced up.
The Complete Robotic Dog Experience
To make things even more genuine, Sony has an accessory to go with Aibo, and it's cleverly called the Aibone. As the name suggests, it's sort of a high-tech bone that Aibo can bite on and carry, and it costs 2,980 JPY or about $26.
Now for a more modern take, it has a companion app dubbed My Aibo that provides access to the system settings and feature such as "Aibo Photos," a "Play" mode that contains a virtual version of Aibo to play with, and the "Aibo Store." Needless to say, the age of the smartphone is the perfect time for the new Aibo.
While it's hairless and doesn't need a toilet, it does need to accumulate data of its interactions, upload it to the cloud, and learn from the info of other Aibo owners to be more intelligent. Basically, it's a camera-equipped device that wanders inside homes and collects data to make others like it and itself smarter as time goes on.
The bad news is that Aibo is only available in Japan, and there's no word whether or not it'll go overseas. That's not all, as it's priced at 198,000 JPY or about $1,739.
The cloud services aren't free either. The Aibo Basic Plan 3 Year Subscription is 90,000 JPY or around $790 for a one-time payment or 2,980 JPY or about $26 a month. The Aibo Support Care is also 54,000 JPY or $474 (1,500 JPY or $13 a month) for three years or 20,000 JPY or $175 (1,667 JPY or $15 a month), which gives customers 50 percent discounts on repair fees and checkups and inspections.
The thing is, teaching it new tricks comes at a price too, which is accessible via the aforementioned Aibo Store. In other words, owners have to fork over some serious cash to make the most of Aibo.
On an interesting note, losing a robot dog is as difficult to swallow as losing a real one. That goes to show that the loss of a family pet is a hard thing to go through, regardless of whether it's artificial or natural.