It's a dog's life for Sony

Sony's cyber pet evolves and can now respond to your actions and convey emotions.

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By  Graham Stacey Published  October 14, 2002

Check out the Sony stand in Hall 4 and you could come in for some heavy petting! But have no fear, you won't get a stroke yourself — all the attention is being centred on Aibo, Sony's cyber dog.
Aibo is actually a second-generation version of the cyber pet that is threatening to one day replace the common mutt. He has many of the traits of a regular dog and, according to Sony stand promoter Candida Pereira, each generation is evolving just as the real thing has. The 2G version, available in international markets for around $1,500, is capable of displaying emotions and has sensors in its body which respond to human touch. It's built-in speech recognition system also means that it can react to commands and the name you give it. If lost, Aibo has the ability to repeat its owner's name to anyone who asks, while he is also programmed to play with his favourite pink ball. As Candida says, he is quite a dab hand with the ball, displaying almost Beckham-like qualities as he struts around a surface with the ball at his feet. She said: “He has a camera in his head. Once you give him something to play with he will photograph it, recognise it and pay attention to it.
“He can display his emotions in a number of ways through symbolic actions. If he is unhappy he will raise his paw and waggle it side to side, and if he is happy he can say yes by holding his paw in the air and nodding it up and down. When you stroke him he can feel it through sensors and display his delight with blue lights on his head — but watch out for the red lights that mean he is unhappy!”
If you really want to get inside the dog's head, the pictures it takes are recorded on a Sony Memory Stick and can be transferred onto your PC and catalogued. But the best part is that feeding (recharging) only takes half an hour and that there's no litter to clean up afterwards. Who said dogs were dirty animals?

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