Sony revives Aibo pet robot with AI smarts

Sony revives Aibo pet robot with AI smarts

In a bid to break into the growing artificial intelligence market, Sony is aiming to steal a march on the likes of Alphabet's Google, Apple and Facebook with the revival of Aibo.

Outside developers will also be able to create applications for the new digital pet, which can be downloaded from an app store being developed by Sony.

Aibo can show its love through "lifelike" eye, ear, and tail movements and a variety of sounds, Sony said. The price tag is still every bit as astronomical as it was in the early 2000s, mind, with a Japanese RRP of around £1,300.

The new version (which Sony is marketing as "aibo" instead of the prior "AIBO") comes equipped with a powerful computer chip, OLED displays for eyes and the ability to connect to mobile networks. It has a camera in its cute little nose too. The new Aibo is launched in Japan and is available to pre-order.

Aibo might sound like the flawless addition to your family, but don't get too excited about the possibility: Sony says the next-generation robot dog is only scheduled to launch in Japan.

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"It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics", Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said at a news briefing.

Aibo, like any new puppy, will be a bit timid at first and unsure of its surroundings, but as it becomes more accustomed to the home it lives in, will gain more confidence to go searching new areas. Owners can also sync "Aibo" with a smartphone application called "My Aibo", which allows them to play with the robot dog remotely. Sony said it aims to sell at least as many new AIBO as the original, without giving a time frame.

The news of Aibo's rerelease led Sony's shares to increase by 11 percent, reaching a nine-year high. It invested an undisclosed sum a year ago in Cogitai, a U.S.

The technology is based on work done by Cogitai, a California-based startup developing AI software that learns continually from real-world interactions. Aibo, short for "artificially intelligent robot", was first introduced in 1999. It also established a venture capital fund to build partnerships with researchers and start-up companies in AI and robotics.

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