Sony brings back Aibo, teaches old dog new tricks

Sony Corp’s entertainment robot ‘aibo’

The two announcements came one day after Sony forecasted a historical-high profit this year in its second-quarter (ending September 30) financial report.

Aibo has OLED screens for eyes nowadays, eyes that can display its feelings, although it might be better to not give it feelings at all, as it's going to be sad most of the time because it's internet connected now as well.

In a news briefing to introduce AIBO, Sony's Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said "It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics". The Aibo will launch in Japan in January at around $1,750.

Aibo recognises and responds to voice commands, and can also be programmed. It sold about 150,000 dogs in Japan before ceasing production seven years later when its core consumer electronics business struggled in price wars with emerging Asian rivals.

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Aibo, like any new puppy, will be a bit timid at first and unsure of its surroundings, but as it becomes more accustomed to the home it lives in, will gain more confidence to go searching new areas. The upgraded Aibo is now packed with an array of sensors, cameras, microphones and internet connectivity, as well as far more advanced AI backed by cloud computing to develop the dog's personality. Aibo, meaning partner in Japanese (but which neatly also stands for AI bot), had new models released every year until 2005. With sensing and AI technologies, AIBO can run toward its owner and detect smiles and words of praise, and can remember what actions please the owner. Sony hasn't announced a launch date for the USA market yet.

In 2016, it invested an undisclosed sum in US-based Cogitai, an AI startup focusing on technology that allows machines to learn continually and autonomously from interaction in the real world.

Note that the name of the electronic pet is a combination of the concepts "friend" and "artificial intelligence", by combining which, the developers got the name of the robot-dog - Aibo. The firm also established a venture capital fund to build partnerships with AI start ups and robotics as well as researchers.

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