Sony’s robot dog Aibo, first released in 1999, had been touted as an invention far ahead of its time – which in its case did not translate to success. However, the tech giants are back with Aibo, for the umpteenth time, but this season with more functionality.
The robotic dog has been around since 1999, serving as an alternative to a live animal that can bark, wag its tail, play fetch, and perform a number of other simple commands. You might ask why people would want a robot dog instead of just getting a real one. The obvious emotional attachment aside, the pros include not having to arrange real food or clean real poop.
However, the dog didn’t fly with the then consumer market, especially as its features for later models got repetitive. Over the years, Sony has released Aibo multiple times, after intervals, sometimes adding more features. The resurrection in 2015 showed promise with more advanced capabilities, including having the ability to imitate up to 60 different emotions. But the $2000 price tag was a little too much.
Aibo is set to return again in Spring 2018, but this time it’ll be competing with a whole different set of gadgets. The company hopes that the product will serve as a competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. Its functionalities will include the ability to perform all the same features as the robotic dog that some people fell in love with, plus it can tell you the weather, the time, set an alarm and more.
Not much has been unveiled regarding how Aibo will serve as a smart home hub, but it will likely serve a similar purpose to the Amazon Echo: taking voice commands, connecting with other smart devices in your home, playing music, streaming video, turning on the lights, and more.
The Aibo sold for a whopping $2,500 when it was first released, making it far less accessible to the average household. There is no word yet on how much the new version will cost, but owing to how technology is more readily available and the advent of 3D printing, new costs could potentially be much lower.
Aibo has always been well ahead of its time, but with the tech-scene in hyperdrive currently, this could well be the relaunch that finally sees Aibo finding its place in the world.