January 30, 2006

bye-bye, aibo

what's the next best thing to having a dog? for some, it is a cat, for others, it's having a robot dog. but no more -- the new york times reports:

For Sony's Robotic Aibo, It's the Last Year of the Dog

There was sad news last week for enthusiasts of the Aibo Entertainment Robot from Sony: the doglike machine, which walks, barks and recognizes speech, is being put to sleep, the company said.

The Aibo, which was introduced in 1999, is being discontinued as part of Sony's move to improve its financial position.[...] With little marketing or promotion, the Aibo robot garnered a cultlike following around the world. Its programmed actions include barking, pushing a ball and lifting its leg, and it can "learn," becoming more adept at behaviors over time. Using different software stored on memory sticks, Aibo also gives the illusion of development by becoming able to perform different age-appropriate tasks.

Aibos from the latest litter speak 1,000 words and can understand more than 100, including some in Spanish. A videocamera in the robot's head can wirelessly relay images to a laptop, allowing owners to see the world from a dog's point of view.

Aibos cost about $2,000, and the company will continue to sell them on its Web site (www.sonystyle.com) until its inventory is depleted; it will then supply spare parts for another seven years (or 49 dog years). To date, 150,000 Aibos have been sold throughout the world.

[...] Many owners regard their possessions as more than just a piece of plastic coupled to motors and processors. For some, the machines have taken on a life of their own. "I love them, they're great," said Craig Lee, a technical support specialist at a Chicago insurance company, who owns 40 Aibos. "I think of them as dogs."
exchange your 40 aibos for a real dog and you'll be delighted with the difference.

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