A litter of puppies, wagged their tails, enjoyed enthusiastic petting by affectionate humans, in Sony’s New York City showroom on Thursday, but they never growled, shed fur, or peed. The reason being, they were Sony’s just launched robotic dogs, already a modest hit in Japan called Aibo.
Sony’s first litter edition, Aibo costs as much as the most sought-after purebred dogs at $2,899. The litter includes a three-year-old cloud plan allowing to access and upload its memory, dog toys, Aibo, and the commemorative dog tags. Although the price may seem a bit outrageous, Sony is not expecting massive sales when it starts selling the Robo-dog in September.
Stephen Baker, vice president and industry advisor for NPD Group says, “It’s a novelty product, an early, early, early adopter product. It’s not designed to sell as much as Sony’s 65-inch televisions are going to sell. It’s a demonstration as to what the capabilities are to let people in the industry and early adopter phase and the press, let them know what they can do and give you a taste of what’s coming.”
Furthermore, Aibo provides a perfect opportunity for Sony for showcasing its existing technology. The already present recognition and image sensing technology in Aibo’s cameras, PlayStation moves, and televisions aid the Robo-dog in remembering and understanding its surroundings.
Based on feedback and interaction with each person, Aibo can detect different relationship and recognize up to 100 faces. Therefore, if you nuzzle its neck, back, or nose, it will respond by obeying or disobeying commands or giving a happy or sad look with its eyes.
Aibo seems cursorily cute without substance at first sight. In terms of functionality, Aibo isn’t a search engine dog. It doesn’t follow you around awaiting your command to get some beer or shut off the lights. Like every other robot and voice assistant, Aibo too lacks personality.
However, Sony presses on the fact that as Aibo ages, it will develop a personality molded by its users encouraging and discouraging it by petting it for accurately accomplishing a command or by saying “no” or “bad” if it fails to. Being just out of the box, all the robotic dog will seem to be similar as there will be the same programming and parts. As the time will pass by, each Aibo will be different from the other one and will develop its own unique identity.
Talking of personality, the prevailing developers are working on incorporating similar features to their innovations. Amazon has added options requiring children to say thank you and please, whereas Apple’s Siri has more accents and voices. The devices can now crack jokes and laugh. Still, they continue to feel monotonous and static.
Baker further elaborates, “There’s not a lot of other products out there that take advantage, directly, of the kind of robotics we’re talking about with Aibo. It’s a play to remind people that voice isn’t the only way we’re going to interact, and our devices are going to interact with us in the future.”
Even though Aibo has the ability to appeal gadget lovers, that seemingly won’t be sufficient to lure customers into shelling nearly $3,000. Aibo’s history itself holds the substantiation of the niche market.
No doubt, Japan’s market varies from that of the U.S., Aibo assures of finding a market for itself regardless of the price tag it comes with.