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Sony’s ‘aibo’ robot boasts AI, Internet

AS Japan readies to celebrate the year of the dog, electronics giant Sony yesterday unleashed its new robot canine companion, packed with artificial intelligence and Internet connectivity.

The sleek ivory-white puppy-sized “aibo” robot shook its head and wagged its tail as if waking from a nap when it was taken out of a cocoon-shaped case at a “birthday ceremony” held in Tokyo.

Seven-year-old Naohiro Sugimoto from Tokyo was among the first to get his hands on the shiny new toy, which he described as “heavy but cute.”

“The dog we had previously died... We bought this robot dog as we wanted a (new) family,” he said.

The 30-centimeter long hound-like machine comes complete with flapping ears and its eyes, made of a cutting-edge light-emitting display, can show various emotions.

Aibo is also fitted with an array of sensors, cameras and microphones and boasts Internet connectivity.

The owner can play with the pet remotely via smartphone and even teach it tricks from the office for the faithful hound to perform when its “master” gets home.

It builds up a “character” by interacting with people and while not always submissive, it is friendly toward those who are kind to it.

What the machine “learns” is stored in the cloud so its “character” can be preserved even in the event of hardware damage. Photos it takes can also be shared.

But the aibo costs nearly US$3,000 for a three-year package, including software services such as data storage.

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