New Sony aibo robodog packages a ton of tech inside a cuddly plastic AI puppy

Supertoys last about three years, apparently

We said a while back that Sony was planning bring back aibo the robot dog, which always seemed to be a bit more than a toy while not quite being a full fledged dog. Well, looks like Sony is going deep on the dog end of things with the new aibo, which is angling to steal your puppy-loving heart. When Sony said they were rethinking the project with AI and other aspects, they weren’t kidding.

The new aibo mostly ditches the robot motif and literally focuses on being a playful pup, with OLED eyes that have eyelids and a wide range of expressive abilities, floppy ears and a wiggly fun tail. And that cute button nose? Yep, that’s a camera. He even loves toys – as long as they’re pink. We kid you not. aibo is packing a ton tech: 4 microphones, wifi, a literal fleet of sensors, and enough motors to give the robodog 22 axis of movement for its many, many moving parts.

Sony says aibo now incorporates deep learning and “will eventually able to respond to its owners’ affection in kind, and when it feels loved, it will display even more love and affection in return, nurturing a bond that only deepens as time goes on.” Sounds amazing, and a little bit creepy. Put some fur on the thing and he’ll give Teddy a run for his money. Sony also says no two aibo will be exactly alike due to their highly localized learning abilities.

The new aibo costs about $2,000 and is for the Japanese market only – at this time. You’ll also need to pony up another $900 for the mandatory 3-year aibo “Basic Plan,” and another $540 for the “Support Care” program. But hey, it only eats electricity and there’s never a stinky mess to clean up, so totally worth it. Want one? Too late. Preorders started today and immediately sold out. But Sony says they’re gonna make more aibos; we’d guess a LOT more.

TGINovember

Well, it is now November, which means the tech world is gearing up for its biggest party of the year: yep, Black Friday. Or Black Thursday. Or Black November as the case may be. Forbes says Nintendo is already planning on tempting gamers this holiday season with a spread of deals, including a Mario-themed Switch gaming system with red controllers, a Super Mario Odyssey download code and a special carry case, all for just $379.

OK, not exactly worth missing Turkey Day to stand in line, but they are also pushing out special bundles of the hit game Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, and a new “Link Green” 2DS handheld with the Ocarina of Time Zelda game for just $80. And if you’re TV shopping, Amazon is also getting the discounts going early with some hidden gems, including this Samsung 65-inch 4K HDR Smart TV for $989, nearly half price. DT will be working up an ongoing list of the best Black Friday tech deals as the holidays get ever closer.

The little big screen of the future

Speaking of TV, there aren’t many pleasures in life equal to coming home at the end of a long work day, plopping down on the ‘ol couch, putting on your VR headset and binge watching your favorite TV show. Did we forget to say “watch TV?” No, no we didn’t.

DT’s Steven Parton has peered into the future of television and found it hiding inside a high-resolution headset, where “TV” can hijack your brain even more than it does now. By blocking out other distractions, watching TV in a headset is even more immersive, because of course, that’s the point of a headset. But studies show that “goggle TV” or whatever you want to call it also activates our limbic systems to the point where they react almost as they do in real life.

Current and upcoming VR headset models are beginning to feature “watching TV” – or movies – as a feature, and while screen headset resolutions at this point can’t quite compete with cutting-edge OLED or even decent LCD TV tech, eventually, it will, we have no doubt. What then? No more old-school flat-panel TVs? Just dark rooms and headsets? Sounds sorta gloomy – unless you’re wearing a headset, of course.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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