AIBO Gets an Upgrade

The new revision of AIBO, the ERS-7 will soon be available in Europe.  Sony’s recreational robot has been extremely popular, despite its high cost, since the introduction of the ERS-110 in 1999 – the series has sold a reported 45,000 units. As the various models have retail prices between £800 and £1200, this has obviously been a success for Sony, and indeed become a cultural icon.

The new features on this unit include a more expressive face display (the “Illume-Face”), and a restyled casing.  More dramatically, the ERS-7 features an improved memory that enables the robot to retain and develop its personality over its lifecycle. We’re wondering if there will be a tearful moment in the house when AIBO has to go and “live on a farm” when he gets a bit older.

Sony claim the personality development routines are a significant step in artificial intelligence.

The new AIBO is also the best connected ever – using a built-in wireless LAN, he can connect to PCs and other mobile devices.  His nose camera allows him to perceive his environment three times better than before, distinguishing shapes, patterns and even faces. He can send photographs of his surroundings and your au pair to your mobile phone.

We would have liked to have brought you some links on AIBO hacking, but Sony used the DCMA to bring all the sites down.

You’ll be able to see the new AIBO in the “flesh” if you’re in Paris at the weekend at the Sony Dream World exhibition.

AIBO’s home page:

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?