The revival of Sony’s Aibo is set to coincide with CNY 2018 celebration
As the annual Chinese New Year festivities draw closer next year, Japanese no. 1 electronics giant Sony is marking the ‘Year of the Dog’ in the Chinese almanac by bringing back to life its robotic canine – some eleven years after the original Aibo went into worldwide mass production. Fully-packed with artificial intelligence and internet capability, Sony’s new “aibo” (i.e. AI robot) dog is an ivory-white puppy-sized, 30-cm tall hound with flapping black ears and a wagging tail. This “man’s new best friend” has the ability to roll its eyes to display emotions and affections. It also comes with an array of sensors, cameras and microphones allowing owners to interact and to play with their artificial pets remotely via the smartphone. The robo-dog was eventually put to sleep a decade ago as a result of cost cutting and corporate restructuring – to the dismay of loyal fans of the revolutionary digital pet. Despite its exorbitant price tag of 250,000 yen, some 3,000 units were sold out within twenty minutes of its initial unveiling back then in 1999. Over the years, more than 150,000 units were sold all over the world.
But by 2006, the Aibo had to be discontinued as Sony’s business model was not able to sustain the luxury canine toy, as well as an impending shift and focus towards its Xperia smartphones enterprise. The all-new resurrected Aibo was launched in Japan in January 2017 and is still priced at a hefty 198,000 yen. Technical repairs and after-sales service for its older aibo models were also discontinued as dedicated “aibo clinics” shuttered their doors after March 2014. However, retired Sony engineers continue to offer their services to aibo customers. They say you could never teach your pet dog new tricks, but you can certainly train Aibo to perform and entertain your entire family. After all, what is a home without a pet? So come get this cute canine now and celebrate CNY 2018 with a little “puppy love” with the new AIBO!
Sony’s 2017 Aibo has been AI-programmed to seek out the romantic colour pink! / Pix: Digital Trends