In five years time mans best friend won’t be a dog that eats your slippers and pees on your Afghan rug, it will be a small electronic dog that leads an autonomous life while every so often connecting to the internet to send you pictures of how its day is going.
Released some four years ago Aibo (Artifical Intelligent Robot) woofed its way into the media circus. Now four years on Sony - the proud owners has unleashed its successor - the tediously named ERS-7.
Cuter, curvier and overall more rounded this little critter is becoming friendlier with every release. Gone are the hard robotic lines, and in comes shiny outer body with electromagnetic sensors you can stoke to get a reponse.
Inside and the principles are still the same albeit Aibo can now be taught a new name (such as fido, spike… you get the picture), perform tricks according to patterned cards and respond to voice commands. Like before Aibo has a six month puppy cycle leading up to adult life (you can skip this if you want) and this time you have to train, play and basically teach it how you want it to behave. From the six month marker the knowledge it has gained is embedded in its psyche and it will act accordingly. Ignore it for the first six months and you’ll have a robotic pet who is boring, uninteresting and so on.
Like before, Aibo knows when the juice is running low and as long as it can access its charger it will happily plug itself back in whenever it needs to. Likewise you can now set its internal body clock so you’re not woken up by the thing in the middle of the night thinking its play time.
Other features that are new include wireless connectivity making downloading and uploading to a PC an easy thing and this help dramatically when it comes to sharing pictures that Aibo has taken with its on board camera.
Overall Aibo has grown in not only the breath of things it can do, but the way and speed in which it can do it. Testing proved just as difficult as testing a real dog would be. At times it just didn’t want to play. Because of this we’re not sure how buyers of this would take it. After all, the last thing you would ever want is a gadget that talks back. Imagine if you’re television decided it wanted the night off - there would be hell to pay. Every version we have seen so far has had more character than the last and the days of “Do androids dream of electric sheep” is fast approaching. Cute without the torment of getting home to find a chewed trainer.