Sony brings back robot dog Aibo with smart home features

Sony
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Sony is looking to recapture some of its old magic by revitalizing a project that has been dead and brought back to life more times than we can count — the smart dog Aibo.

The robotic dog has been around since 1999, serving as an alternative to a live animal that can bark, wag its tail, play fetch, and perform a number of other simple commands. The idea made sense, as Sony assumed people would rather shell out the dough for a fake dog over a real one who eats real food (and leaves real droppings).

Aibo failed to gain much traction early on, however, as the dog’s features got repetitive quickly. And the product wasn’t able to deliver the same level of companionship that a real dog brings to the relationship.

The project was once again resurrected in 2015 with more advanced capabilities, including having the ability to imitate up to 60 different emotions. Nevertheless, the $2,000 price tag was a tad too high for many.

Now Sony’s Aibo is coming back to meet current consumer demands in the form of a part-robotic dog, part-smarthome hub. The company hopes that the product will serve as a competitor to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.

The project is currently slated for a spring 2018 release. Its functionalities will include the ability to perform all the same features as the robotic dog that some people fell in love with, plus it can tell you the weather, the time, set an alarm and more.

Not much has been unveiled regarding how Aibo will serve as a smart home hub, but it will likely serve a similar purpose to the Amazon Echo: taking voice commands, connecting with other smart devices in your home, playing music, streaming video, turning on the lights, and more.

Perhaps the new Aibo will serve more as a guard dog, informing its owner about the presence of an intruder. The potential for Sony’s idea is great as the robot dog will be open source, allowing software developers to improve Aibo’s skills.

Sony will reportedly release a number of other consumer offerings beyond Aibo that will help the company become relevant once again with products similar to the Echo, Samsung SmartThings and smart Apple devices.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

With focus on interoperability, is Nevo Butler a smarter home hub?

Universal Electronics is the latest company getting into the smart home market, announcing at CES 2019 that it intends to market the Nevo Butler, a new smart home hub with onboard A.I. and voice control technology.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Water-based fuel cell converts carbon emissions to electricity

Scientists from Korea's Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a system which can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen by dissolving carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution.
Emerging Tech

Scientists investigate how massive stars die in dramatic hypernova events

Our Sun will gradually fade before expanding into a red giant at the end of its life. But larger mass stars undergo extreme explosive events called hypernovas when they die which outshine their entire galaxies.
Emerging Tech

Pilotless planes are on their way, but would you fly in one?

Airbus says advancements in artificial intelligence can help it toward its goal of building a plane capable of fully autonomous flight, though whether passengers can be persuaded to travel in one is another matter entirely.
Emerging Tech

‘Tech vest’ prevents Amazon workers from colliding with robot co-workers

Amazon workers at its fulfillment centers are using "tech vests" to help protect them from collisions with their robot co-workers. The robots already have obstacle avoidance sensors, but the belt offers another layer of safety.
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Mobile

T-Mobile 5G rollout: Here is everything you need to know

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Emerging Tech

ANYmal dog robot can get back on its feet when someone pushes it over

Roboticists at ETH Zurich have demonstrated how their ANYmal four-legged robot is capable of taking a kicking and keeping on walking -- or getting back to its feet if it's pushed over.
Emerging Tech

A.I. finds non-infringing ways to copy drugs pharma spends billions developing

Researchers have demonstrated an artificial intelligence which can find new methods for producing existing pharmaceuticals in a way that doesn’t infringe on existing patents. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Coinstar machines will let you swap cash for Bitcoin at your local grocery store

Coinstar, the company which owns the coin exchange machines found at grocery stores and elsewhere, will soon let you easily buy Bitcoin with your cash money. Here's how it will work.
Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.