You may remember Sony’s original Aibo robodogs, which went on the market in 1999. Sony decided to stop production in 2006 after selling about 150,000 Aibos, but it would seem the electronics giant has had a change of heart, because they have announced that Aibo is making a comeback – and is cuter than ever. While it will forever remain a puppy, your new robot companion is equipped with artificial intelligence so it will be able to learn countless tricks. Its camera eyes will allow it to recognize facial expressions including smiling and frowning and can take pictures on your command. Here’s the creepy part: you can even allow your Aibo to upload data is has collected from its interactions with you to the cloud, where it will also have access to the data collected by other Aibos, helping your robopup to become even more clever. So basically, intimate details of your home captured on camera and pretty much anything you’ve said within earshot of your best robopal shared to a collective cloud. I’ll pass.
Otherwise, your Aibo will also learn to react to petting (if stroking a hairless, plastic back is your thing), head scratching (again…I’ll pass), it will actively seek you when you’re not around and its two OLED screen eyes will be able to portray an array of puppy dog expressions. Its battery will last for about two hours, after which Aibo will need to take a nap on its charging mat, a three hour nap more specifically, to recharge completely.
Now that you’re completely sold on getting one of these puppies, I must disappoint – Sony is only releasing them in Japan for now, so if you’re one of my many readers who don’t live in Japan, you might consider an actual living, breathing and fur bearing companion. If you do happen to live in Japan, then you can pre-order your Aibo for the modest sum of 198,000 JPY (~$1,735), plus 2,980 JPY ($26) per month (or ~$790 if you pay up-front for the full three years) to subscribe to the cloud that drives Aibo’s AI. Of course, there will also be a companion app that will let Aibo masters buy new tricks for their robopet as well as accessories to keep them happy.