If you’re a pet owner, you’ve gotten used to the routine of caring for your furry companion: Walking the dog, changing out the cat’s litter box, or setting out food multiple times a day are just a few of the daily responsibilities that come with owning a pet. What if you could enjoy having a pet without having to worry about the tasks that aren’t as fun? Sony tackled this question back in 1999 with the release of their robotic pet dog, Aibo. Originally costing around $2000, Aibo was one of the most advanced robots available for consumers at the time, featuring the ability to respond to simple commands (shake, lay down, etc). In addition to fulfilling these commands, Aibo was programmed to express around 60 unique emotions.
Your beagle’s cute, but can he control your smart home appliances? The Sony Aibo can.
No longer is Aibo just acting as a robotic companion, but Sony is aiming to break into the smart assistant scene by equipping Aibo with abilities outside of a normal dog’s.
The hype surrounding Aibo fizzled out and became obsolete by 2015, although a few Aibo owners did attempt to keep their “pets” in working order up until Sony stopped offering repair services. A recent announcement from Sony may be the news Aibo owners (and smart home enthusiasts) have been waiting to hear, though. Aiming for a spring 2018 release, Sony is bringing back Aibo with an array of new features. No longer is Aibo just acting as a robotic companion: Sony is aiming to break into the smart assistant scene by equipping Aibo with abilities outside of a normal dog’s. Aibo will be able to respond to voice commands, similar to Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Aibo owners will soon be able to find out what the weather’s like, play music, and control smart home tech through their “dog”.
Changing the AI and smart assistant game
It’s interesting to see how owners of previous Aibo models got super attached to their robo-dogs, and even more interesting to see how the new Aibo will play into people’s’ daily routines as a pet-assistant hybrid. Giving a smart assistant a physical manifestation is an interesting concept as Aibo can interact with you in a real space. However, I find it slightly creepy to think about a robot roaming around my house with the ability to control my home. (Imagine if Siri could walk around and see everything that’s going on.) Sure, Aibo is controlled by the owner, but it will certainly be a hot topic for those worried about AIs becoming too smart for their own good. For now, though, it could be pretty entertaining to add “turn on the lights” or “lock the front door” to your dog’s normal sequence of “sit”, “stay”, and “roll over”.
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