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AIBO, the end

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Sony has shut down production of its robotics unit, leaving Aibo and Qrio out in the cold. The mechanical dog and humanoid will be consigned to the scrap heap (or an eBay seller near you).Aibo, the robotic dog that emerged from the Sony kennels to great fanfare in 1999, was just costing the company too much money, a Sony spokesman said. The total number of dogs sold is slightly more than 150,000, which is a paltry total compared to what company officials had predicated and hoped for. The US$2,000 price tag undoubtedly played a large part in the lackluster sales, which have left the poor little pooch in the market forces doghouse. Still, collectors and aficionados will miss the regular updates of little Aibo, whose most incarnation had the power to speak 1,000 words, react to an owner’s commands and motions, and even play music.

One thing that Aibo can do, of course, is take pictures. That functionality has spawned a cottage industry of online photo-swapping, with Aibo-taken pictures as the prime commodity. These and other fans of Aibo might have a bone to pick with Sony over the shuttering of the robotic facilities. Sony, however, wants to keep an eye on the bottom line.

“Our core businesses are electronics, games and entertainment, but the focus is going to be on profitability and strategic growth,” said Sony spokeswoman Kirstie Pfeifer. “In light of that, we’ve decided to cancel the Aibo line.”

This does not mean that you can’t get one of these little dogs if you really want one. Sony has said that it will continue to provide Aibo to anyone who wants to buy one. Once existing inventory is gone, however, it’s gone for good.

Qrio, a humanoid friend to Aibo, will be discontinued as well, with the same existing-inventory arrangements.


Sony To Aibo: Play Dead. Mobile Magazine. Dave White. January, 2006.


Written by aterrier

June 8, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Posted in aibo

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AIBO, the beginning

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Aibo and Nipper. Photo by pt at Flickr.

SONY unleashed a robotic dog on Tuesday. It has a metallic coat, flashing green eyes, wobbly knees and a propensity to wag its tail when you pat its head. Its name is Aibo, which means companion in Japanese. And for $2,500, it could be yours.Aibo (pronounced eye-BO) is Sony’s answer to the 20th-century quest for a relatively intelligent robot that gets around on its own. (Its name is also a quasi-acronym that stands for artificial intelligence robot.) Over the years some companies have actually tried to sell what they call robots, like the remote-controlled Omnibot sold by the Tomy toy manufacturer in the late 1980’s. But none have succeeded in producing a usable robot or capturing the consumer’s attention.

Sony is betting that Aibo will break that cycle, and a few other companies are taking the same gamble this year. Eureka has been showcasing a new robot vacuum cleaner at housewares shows. A few companies are promising to unveil robotic lawn mowers within months. And a wheeled robot called Cye is starting to generate interest among robot enthusiasts after appearing last fall in a Web-based catalog called the Mondo-tronics Robot Store.

Aibo is a different breed from the personal assistants and maid droids that most science fiction fans envision. It is designed primarily to be entertaining, and cute.

”It almost takes on a personality where you think it’s real,” said Tod Freeman, a spokesman for Sony, at a demonstration a few weeks ago.

Weighing three and a half pounds, Aibo is a little smaller than a Yorkshire terrier. It kneels on a recharging cradle when it is resting. When it is set on a flat surface, its tail perks up. Then the robo-pup raises its head, pulls itself upright, stretches and yawns widely.

New York Times.  May 13, 1999

Audrey Hepburn and her Yorkshire Terrier, Famous


Written by aterrier

June 8, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Posted in yorkshire terrier

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