Aibo, Your electronic pal

Those of you who know me know that I love gadgets. I admit that I was among the people that diligently waited in line to get a Tamagochi and I did consider getting a Furby before deciding that I would wait for the next generation. So when Sony introduced AIBO, an electronic pet, I have to admit that I was ready to pull out my credit card. However, at $2500 per unit, it may be a little pricey.

So what does AIBO do, you’re wondering. Well, think of a pet that doesn’t require any upkeep (no need to worry about walking them out, feeding them or cleaning up after them).

That’s essentially what AIBO is. But, more to the point, AIBO is also the first cute robot companion to hit the market and may be the father of a new trend in robotics.

For the techies among us, AIBO is a 64-bit, 100-MHz RISC processor running Sony’s proprietary Aperios operating system, 18 motors, a gyroscope to keep it stable, diode eyes for detecting color and distance, and a removable Sony Memory Stick (which, I can’t figure out why, goes under his tail). The unit can run for about an hour and a half on a rechargeable battery (however, it will not move back to its bay to recharge itself), understands basic sound commands (although you have to use a special device to communicate with it) and has very basic learning mechanisms that allow it to evolve and develop a mini-personality.

However, a text description does not do it justice: the genius of Sony is that it has created a cute robot and, while it is not as furry or talkative as a Furby, it does go a long way toward making itself likable.

It’s preprogrammed antics also do help, as does the fact that it seems to move like a dog. At the current time, there are only about 5000 AIBOs out there in the world and they’ve all been sold. However, keep an eye on this little robot: it just may be the first of many…

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