AIBO: Robot Dog Mania
It's small so it fits into the category of small dog. However, it's a new "breed" known as the robopet and only time will tell how well it will be received and who will purchase these mechanical pets.
In March 1999, Matsushita Electronic Industrial Company introduced its robotic cat prototype, hyped as "a perfect companion for the growing elderly population in Japan." Matusuhita's robopet prototype was recently upstaged by the announcement of a new robotic dog manufactured by another entertainment giant, Sony Corporation.
Using the cutting edge of robot technology, Sony introduced the latest and greatest mechanical toy on the market - a robot pet named AIBO (Artificial Intelligence Robot), which means "companion" in Japanese. The word Aibou is the Japanese word for "partner" or "pal."
Although many dog and cat robots have been in the works by individuals and corporations alike, Sony's Digital Creatures Laboratory announced the availability of its creation on May 11, 1999. The company unveiled their mechanical creature for the world on TV, in print and on the Internet. In fact, the robopets can only be purchased through Sony's internet site.
Initially, only 5,000 units will be available, with 2,000 designated for the United States and 3,000 for Japan. Sony hopes the limited quantities will incite big demand. The cost will knock your socks off at $2500 per robot. (True dog lovers can calculate the number of pure bred dogs that amount would purchase). It is estimated that AIBO pets will become the anchor of Sony's electronics business whose current values stand at over $40 billion.
Press releases and media accounts state that AIBO is "not ready or able to bring you your slippers or respond to your verbal command to heel," but it is able to perform a variety of unnervingly dog-like tasks such as barking when "hungry," demonstrating personality traits such as anger and love, and wagging its tail for approval.
Barking for food...