Over 11,000 Aibos – Sony’s robot dog – have been sold since its January launch which is quite a lot for something costing $1,800.
Sony may be trying to promote a Tamagotchi-type craze for Aibo because it is on restricted supply and only sold by a lottery process at Sony stores in Japan. Though Sony now says it may increase production.
Unlike the Tamagotchi pets whose characters were displayed on small LEDs, Aibo is a complicated piece of hardware having a quad-core CPU, built-in LTE and WiFi, a number of sensors, motors and gyroscopes, a speaker and four microphones, OLED eyes which allow for “nuanced” expressions, fisheye cameras which see and recognize individual faces and actuators which allow its body to move smoothly along 22 axes.
Aibo, says Sony, is “capable of forming an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.”
$1,800 is only the beginning of an Aibo-owner’s expense. The dog is cloud-connected and you need a $27 a month sub to activate Aibo’s cloud connection.
Cloud storage backs up Aibo’s developing, unique, personality as he responds and moulds himself to meet your needs and complement your character.
The idea is for Aibo to learn new tricks and you’ll be able to either buy these tricks from the Aibo store or get your Aibo to learn them from other Aibos.
This will, presumably, lead to the formation of Aibo-Owners Clubs where you can take your Aibo to interact with other Aibos and where owners can discuss their pets’ foibles.
An earlier version of Aibo, launched in 1999 and discontinued in 2006, sold 150,000 units.