Marketing goes to the dogs

Marketing goes to the dogs

Sony has unwrapped its latest Aibo entertainment robot, a futuristic canine-looking model that doesn't appear to be as well-bred as previous versions.

Below the neck, the new model - the ERS-220 - bares a resemblance to Sony's first model of Aibo, the ERS-110, and its successor, the ERS-210, but from the neck up things are drastically different. Aibo's new noggin, complete with 21 flashing lights and a retractable headlight, makes the ERS-220 look a lot more robot-like than pet-like.

"That's really what the Aibo is, a robot and not a puppy dog or a cat," clarified Jon Piazza, a spokesman for Sony Electronics. "The general public thought of Aibo as a replacement for a pet and it was really never intended for that."

Funnily enough, this Tabloid journalist recalls being interested in Aibo as a robot rather than a pet but Sony's own marketing teams were the ones plugging it as "the ideal companion".

Hardware-wise, the other main changes beyond the style are in the number of joints. The new Aibo doesn't have a movable tail or ears, which means it only has 16 degrees of freedom compared to 20 on the previous model.

On the software side, Sony has updated the Aibo system software to allow for a 75-word vocabulary and enhanced photo-taking capability. The new Aibo Step software package allows users to change the noise the robot makes when it walks, while the Aibo Boost allows the robot to become excited (but not to the point where it gets amorous with your leg) when communication with its owner goes well.

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