Sony is a huge electronics maker known for making TVs, cameras, PlayStations etc., but the Japanese company is looking to get into another niche. Sony announced on Thursday that its popular robot dog called Aibo will return to the US in September. This is the first time the dog will be coming to the US after nearly 12 years.
The dog was first released in 1990 in Japan. It was an exciting time for the robotics industry. However, this excitement was short-lived. As cheaper robots started to hit the market, the buzz that surrounded Aibo died and it has been very quiet ever since. Last year, Sony decided to launch a new more advanced version which features OLED eyes, facial recognition technology and a new AI feature that allows the dog to develop a personality based on its daily interactions with humans. The dog also comes with image sensors and cameras to help detect and analyze sound and images.
These features are designed to make Aibo a companion robot, a machine that can bond with a normal human being. So far, Sony has sold about 20,000 of these robots in Japan in less than seven months. This is a huge number considering that the robot costs nearly $2,000 in Japan. US customers will have to part with nearly $3,000 for it.
The hype surrounding Aibo has been huge. During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, the robot drew massive crowds during the live demonstration of how it works, and it’s not hard to see why. The pup did show a lot of life-like movements. It could give high fives, lie down, and even shake its head. Sony said that it has added new skills like playing dead over time. In addition to this, the AI in the robot makes it easier for Aibo to learn new tricks.
Ever since its launch in 1990, this is the first time that Sony has really taken a serious approach in bringing the technology back to the market. This is also the first time that the company has bothered to update Aibo after nearly 18 years. US customers who want to purchase the robot dog will need to move fast. According to Sony, Aibo will be available in the US only for a limited time, and then it will be removed from the market.
Aibo’s success is seen by many critics as a clear sign that Sony is not just an electronics company. The company is taking on AI and robotics seriously as it positions itself for the future. A return to the US with what seems to be a very hot product could also be a huge game changer in revamping its image. Sony is also partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to research and develop food delivery robots that can be used to handle fragile materials. The Japanese company is hoping that Aibo will generate the same kind of response among US consumers as it has already done in Japan over the last few months.