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Sony is finally bringing the robot dog to the US – but there is a catch

(Credit: Sony)

The next time your child sings “how much is that doggie in the window” you can finally answer – $2,900.

After first introduced last century, and reintroduced in Japan earlier this year, Sony took the wraps off the “First Nest Edition” version of the Aibo on Thursday. In addition to organic, Aibo is connected to a cloud-based artificial intelligence that makes it possible to understand new sights and sounds and the interaction with the owner in a more lifelike manner than the previous editions.

“Aibo’s charming personality, dog-like behavior and the ability to intelligently communicate with family members to help in the creation of a personal band,” said Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics North America, in a statement. “To the aibo back to the US reflects Sony’s broader commitment to provide consumers with products that not only entertains but also enrich their lives.”

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Sony is well to point out that each Aibo will be individual to the owner and no two dogs are alike, even if they resemble each other, consisting of two OLED screens will be used for the eyes and a white and gray body.

(Credit: Sony)

“This is truly a one-of-a-kind product that is designed to connect with the owners on an emotional level,” Fasulo added.

For the big (adoption) fee, the consumer gets Aibo, a charging station, paw pads, a pink ball, a “aibone,” an individually numbered commemorative dog tag and access to the aibo-app.

People who don’t buy Aibo can also download the app and use it, Sony said.

Also included is a three-year subscription to the AI Cloud-Plan 2, the updates that each Aibo’s personality, so for each robot dog to have their own individuality, grow, and evolve in time.

Artificial intelligence is the key

The robot dog is equipped with a range of improved technology, including touch-sensors, cameras, and microphones to make it seem real to the owners.

It contains 4,000 parts, 22 axes, and “flexible behavior is made possible by means of deep learning AI technology in the form of built-in sensors that detect and analyse sounds and images.”

It is also very sensitive when you pet and can be taught new tricks when it interacts with the owner, as well as the changing of the seasons and events. It can also identify the owners and faces to detect praise and smiles, Sony said.

While the hardware is expensive, Sony is of the opinion that the cloud-connected, the AI will give a leg up (pun intended) and make for a unique experience for the owners.

“If Aibo interaction with people in the course of time develops his own unique personality through everyday interactions, making it to remember what actions the owner happy and the form of a deep relationship with members of the household,” the company said.

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(Credit: Sony)

Aibo’s history

The latest version of the Aibo is a big step up from the previous five generations of the robot, which Sony discontinued in 2006 at a time that the company is in severe cost-cutting measures and a decline in the share price.

The company even staged a mock funeral for the Aibo, widely seen as a sign that the company had lost its risk-taking ways

Only 150,000 units of the robot dog sold from 1999 to 2006, according to the Japanese media company The Mainichi.

Aibo is a hit in Japan, where it was re-introduced in January. In May, the company said it sold 11,111 units in the first three months of availability.

The Japanese version is significantly cheaper, coming in at 198,000 yen (about $1,800). However, Aibo owners also have to spend about $25 per month on the cloud-based services, which are bundled in the US

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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