A pack of puppies bark, waved their tails and enjoyed enthusiastic petting by getting people in the New York Exhibition Hall on Thursday, but they never pissed, throwing fur or gravel. That's because these were Sony's newly opened robotic dogs, called Aibo, already a modest hit in Japan.
The robot bags cost about as much as some of the most sought after breed dogs of $ 2,899. It's the price of Sony's First Litter Edition, which includes Aibo, dog toys, memorials and a three-year ski plan, which allows you to upload and access the memory. The price seems outrageous, but it's probably not a lot of sales that Sony comes to when it starts selling the latest model in September.
"It's a new product, an early, early, early adopter product. It's not designed to sell as much as Sony's 65-inch televisions are going to sell," said Stephen Baker, vice president and NPD Group's NPD Group. "It's a demonstration of what the ability is to let people in the industry and early adoption phase and the press let them know what they can do and give you a taste of what's coming."
Aibo also allows Sony to show its existing technology. The image recognition and recognition technology, already in its televisions, cameras and PlayStation Move, allows Aibo to better understand and remember the environment.
Aibo can detect up to 1
At first pass, Aibo looks super cute without substance. As a technology assistant, technology markets meet phones, speakers and computers, and several utilitarian robotmates vacuum floors, it seems that Aibo does not add much.
Maybe it's not when it comes to functionality. Aibo is not a search engine dog. It does not follow you around waiting for you to turn it off. However, Aibo has what every other voice assistant and robot lacks – a personality.
Sony emphasizes that, as Aibo's ages, it will develop a personality based on behaviors that users encourage and counteract by killing it after executing a command or proper "Bad" or "No" if it fails. Out of the box, the robot dogs are all the same parts and programming, but in a week, a month, a year, each of them can be as different from both other Aibos and the younger ones as a real litter of puppies.
Existing assistant developers are working to add similar features to their technology. Apple's Siri has more voices and accents, Amazon added alternatives that require children to say thank you and thank you, and both have tried to increase the bend. They can laugh and even tell jokes. But they still feel static and monotonous.
Voice assistants are also limited by their nature since they can only interpret voice. Much of human communication occurs through facial expressions and other body language signs. It can not be important when all you want to know is the weather. But as the demand for assistant technology grows, it's likely that these devices will increasingly interpret your request as well.
"There are not many other products out there that are directly exploited by the type of robotics we talk to with Aibo. It's a game to remind people that voice is not the only way we'll interact with our devices interact with us in the future, "says Baker.
It will probably not be enough to lure average customers to release nearly $ 3000 on Aibo, but it has the ability to appeal to gadget lovers. Evidence of the niche market could lie in Aibo's own story.
Sony introduced the first Aibo in 1999 and produced another five versions before the project was deleted in 2006. Sony actually refused to call the first models the dogs but did not stop owners from treat Aibos as family members.
New York Times documented the length of some owners in Japan still goes to keep their robot buddies on their way. Owners will order spare parts on eBay and even hold funerals when they can not be resolved anymore. Sony sold 150,000 models from 1999 to 2006, and has already sold 20,000 in Japan since its last release there in January.
While Japan's market is different from the United States, Aibo shows the promise of finding a market despite the price tag that comes with.