Sony have just released their new version of Aibo. (Click the banner to read the Press Release.) Their latest ‘entertainment robot’ exhibits fun pet-like behaviour, just as the previous versions did. However, Sony have bundled a lot of the previous software and hardware for the ERS-210 and 220 into the package. Previously, you needed to purchase ‘Aibo Recognition’ software to allow Aibo to recognise its’ owner’s face and locate its energy station to charge itself. Now it’s all included.
For the first time, Sony’s new robot also features ‘Visual Pattern Recognition’ enabling AIBO to distinguish shapes and patterns. For example, the pattern on the Energy Station pole helps AIBO to localise and position itself quickly. In addition, new ‘AIBO Cards’ feature a variety of patterns offering an alternative way of communicating visually with AIBO. These cards allow AIBO to be given several instructions including ‘Alarm clock set-up‘ or ‘Take a picture’.
One of the key applications of Sony’s new ‘AIBO Mind’ software utilises Wireless LAN technology which is now also built-in. For example, AIBO can remotely connect to an Internet enabled PC or mobile device. This allows the owner to do things such as send an email instruction to AIBO asking it to take an unsuspecting picture of the owner’s children and send it back to the mobile telephone!
So it is still as “cute”? Yes, I guess so. The design of the 220 I didn’t like – it was just too ‘robot like’, but with the ERS-7, Sony have returned to their original “puppy” form. It’s an improvement. Reading the spec, it’s got LEDs all over the place so I want to see one working to see how it looks. Anyhow, with a far lower price than the 210 plus all the add-ons, Sony are heading in the right direction! As usual, I have to add, “I want one – NOW!” :-)