The Pet Guide: Part Pet, All Tech

Using artificial intelligence and other technologies, Sony’s Aibo robodog evolves into a companion you may learn to love.



Roberto Gonzalez

Where Science Meets Love | High-Tech Tools & Toys | Part Pet, All Tech | Horse Sense About Pets | Cover Pet Contest | Orlando Dogs Get Their Day in Court

Studies show pets alleviate loneliness, improve mental and emotional health and can even reduce your blood pressure. But for those people who can’t have a pet—maybe because of living arrangements, lifestyle, allergies or other health reasons—there’s Aibo, the robot dog programmed to become your perfect pet.

The interactive robopet emulates the expressions and behaviors of a real dog while adopting its own personality and adapting to its environment. Best of all, it’s allergen-free, requires no feeding, will not eat your shoes or ruin your floors, and will never require a vet visit. But it may bark or nuzzle you or give you puppy eyes, much like a real pet, to get your attention.

“At the core of Aibo’s unique design are Sony’s leading-edge image sensing, [artificial intelligence] and robotics technologies, and this combination enables Aibo to intelligently and autonomously interact with its owners and physical environment,” says Michiko Araki Kelley, vice president of the New Business and Corporate Marketing Group of Sony Electronics Inc.

For $2,899.99 plus accessories, Aibo comes programmed with a plethora of tricks—shake, high five, dance, beg, roll over and many others—and can be taught to learn countless more. Aibo can continue to evolve through software updates that provide enhanced functionality, such as new tricks, and owners can connect with their Aibo, whose eye color and name are customizable, using an app.

Aibo displays puppylike inquisitiveness, mapping its environment and learning the faces and personalities of people with whom it interacts. Its interactions shape its responses, and its unique personality evolves as a result of its experiences. It even may try to interact with real pets, which may or may not be impressed.

And don’t worry about failing to preserve special moments: Aibo’s cameras take photos to create what the website calls “a database of memories.” Its cameras, sensors and microphones help it interact with users. The information it gleans has aroused some privacy concerns. But the information also helps shape it into your ideal companion, Kelley says, and companionship is at Aibo’s core.

Studies show Aibo and similar robopets are serving their purpose, especially among nursing home residents, who benefit from companionship and engagement. A 2008 study compared seniors’ responses to real and robotic dogs. “The most surprising thing is they worked almost equally well in terms of alleviating loneliness and causing residents to form attachments,” according to geriatrics professor and study co-author Dr. William A. Banks of Saint Louis University.

Sony reportedly sold 150,000 of Aibo’s first iteration, introduced in 1999. The company will not disclose current sales, but Kelley says the “first-litter edition” introduced in the United States in August 2018 sold out, “and we are continuing to see healthy market demand for Aibo this year.”

Kelley says she hopes Aibo will be a source of joy and inspiration to its owners, some of whom are less interested in the pet than the tech. “For those who are interested in evolving technology, Aibo is a great way to experience advanced technologies such as A.I. and robotics in their day-to-day lives,” she says.

The company has not announced plans for the next-generation Aibo, but it “will continue to develop underlying technologies and capabilities in robotics, image sensing, and A.I. with the intention of introducing all sorts of new consumer experiences in the years ahead,” Kelley adds.

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

College Guide List 2019

2019 Premier Veterinarians

The 2019 Central Florida List is OUT! Each year Orlando Magazine publishes the Premier Veterinarians List. Take a look at the full list now.

2018 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.

Real Estate All Stars 2019

Let Orlando's best real estate agents help you find your dream home!

Retirement Living 2019

This feature highlights several great retirement communities that Central Florida has to offer.

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2019

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2019

Our annual list featuring 220 of the area's finest dental professionals.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Health Hub: Take The Feel Whole Challenge With Us

Now is the best time to start! Come take the Feel Whole Challenge with us!

Upgrade Your Specs! Oxford Eyes In Ivanhoe Village

Get ready for Fall with the latest eyewear trends and avoid those busy malls!

Focus On With Dr. Sadek: Women’s Health and Epilepsy

Did you know women face additional challenges with epilepsy due to hormones?

Health Hub: Why Are Flu Shots Important?

Fall has arrived, and with it, the start of flu season. While you can get the flu at any time, cases typically rise in October and hit their peak around the holidays. Learn why it's important to get your flu shot!

Special Olympics Florida Celebrates Its Annual Champions Gala

This annual exclusive event honors community leaders and fundraises for statewide athletics!
Edit Module