AIBO is an electronic dog manufactured by Sony. The word "Aibo" is said to mean "companion" in Japanese.

It is powered by a 100MHz RISC processor, and is equiped with 16 MegaBytes of internal memory. It has an 180,000 pixel camera in its "eyes", and 18 different, flexible, joints.

The Aibo can "feel" several emotions (including surprise, anger, and sadness). It also has a way of "telling" the owner what it feels. It also has the ability to learn, and memorize, things.

They're shipping at about $3000 USD, which isn't really all that expensive. A real dog will probably cost more (considering you have to buy a new one every 10 years or so, and feed it).

No, this is not a marketing ploy, I just happen to find these things quite interesting.

Source o' knowledge: Sony Europe.

I've discovered that while you can read the data on the memory stick that is the brains of the Aibo, you should be careful.

I think I've managed to screw up my Aibo Life memory stick, by putting it in a USB memory stick reader. It seems to be readable - I see it as a removable 'drive' on my Windows 98 machine. I can also browse the contents in Explorer. But having said this, I've also now tried to put the damn thing back in my Aibo and the darn thing won't 'boot' any more. It just makes a series of unhappy beeps and turns itself off. I suspect some sort of copy protection scheme.
  • ERS 110 - the original model which look like a dog.
  • ERS 210 - the second, cat-like model which still behaves like a dog.
  • ERS 220 EXP - this one looks most like RoboCop. It's the most advanced one.
  • ERS 311/312 - These two were launched a the same time. 311's name is Latte and it's the white one, 312 is called Macaron and it's black. They were introduced around the same time as the 220 EXP model and are a lot cheaper, smaller and less advanced. But they do have more functions than the first two models.
  • ERS-31L - the low budget model, a bit uglier than the Latte/Macaron model in a brown color. Looking at the type-number it's the Light version of the 311/312 series.
Aibo, which happens to mean something like "pal" or "companion" in Japanese, comes from Artificial Intelligence roBOt. Initially seen as a good pet substitute for Japanese small apartment dwellers, the price kept them out of most of the households. When you don't want to walk the dog (or clean up after it), you didn't have to. That doesn't mean they didn't mimic dogs -- they were known to lift a leg and 'pee' if mistreated.

It looks like the Aibo's days are numbered. Sony, in an effort to focus on its core electronics and compete better with companies like Hitachi and Samsung, has decided to drop its niche products, which includes the Aibo. Sony did say they would supply parts for at least seven years, but many owners are concerned. Most of them think of their Aibo as true pets, and having a pet die can be traumatic. I forsee a study in the future, to gauge the reactions of owners when their robots cease to function.

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