Man’s Best Machine Friend Is Almost Here
Today, August 23rd, Sony announced it would be bringing its new Aibo robot dog to the United States. The dog will launch for $2,899, which is actually fairly standard pricing for a premium puppy, as some purebred dogs can cost that much or even more.
This dog, named the Aibo, is not the first time Sony has attempted such a product: The current model is actually design number six of a product the company initially launched way back in 1999.
But Sony promises this feature has more than enough new tech in it to make it worth its purchase price, including a set of advanced eye cameras with a high degree of facial recognition. This tech will allow your pup to recognize not only you, but your whole family, your extended family, and possibly all your friends: Up to 100 faces in total.
And by now, the days of charging home electronics like these is very much over, as the device’s spacial (and facial) recognition eye-cams allow it to remember the layout of your house. It will automatically move to its own charging station and charge itself when it gets tired. Set it down and set it up, and that’s all there is to it – Certainly simpler than a real dog.
But is it as cute as a real dog? It certainly tries to be. According to Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics North America, this product is unique because it is a mechanical device designed to connect with users on an emotional level.
“Aibo’s charming personality, dog-like behaviors and ability to intelligently interact with family members help to create a personal bond”, Fasulo says. “Bringing aibo back to the U.S. reflects Sony’s broader commitment to provide consumers with products that not only entertain them but also enrich their lives.”
To make this work, Sony has put a significant amount of time into maximizing the little dude’s facial responsiveness, giving it a face that can rotate and react on all of 22 different axes. The first Aibo set will also come with a pink ball and a plastic “aibone” that the dog will try its best to keep track of. In addition, a large part of its functionality is packed into the Aibo app, which records photos and videos that the dog takes with its camera eyes as well as showing users the range of tricks it can perform.
Sony’s significant investment in the Aibo product represents their dedication to forge real, emotional connections with customers – a dedication that few competitors can match.
From a business perspective, products like the Aibo and the Vector, a tiny talking housebot that is designed specifically to look and sound like those sci-fi robots you’ve seen on TV, shows that companies seem to be re-investing in the idea of a novelty product that justifies their purchase price mostly through their charm and visual appeal.
While novelty trends don’t bring about the highest degree of tech advancement in the industry, they do encourage a lot of experimentation and allow designers more freedom to create what they believe will be the next big hit.
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites have also been large gateways for these kinds of products in the past – Novelty items designed to look cool and impact a user emotionally can seem super appealing on-paper, and a site like Kickstarter, where the on-paper presentation of a product is practically the only thing given to consumers, is tremendously helpful to push these projects forward.
In summary: If projects like the Vector and the Aibo prove successful for their sellers, expect to see more and more devices like these emerging in the future.
Featured Image Via Flickr / Zhank Zhank