Sony's Aibo Turns "Newshound"

Sony’s popular electronic dog Aibo has turned “newshound” (as Wireless Watch Japan’s Gail Nakada amusingly put it.) In the latest iteration announced Thursday, Sony has given the 6-year-old electronic pet (model ERS-7M3) the ability to read news headlines and even to write its own blog.

Loaded with a version of an RSS newsreader, Aibo’s owner can select his or her own Web sites or blogs – so long as they are written in RSS – for the Aibo to read aloud.

“With one simple voice command Aibo can read the morning’s headline news while its owner folds the laundry,” noted Toshi Kawai, senior manager of Entertainment Robot America (ERA), a division of Sony Electronics, in a press release.

As for blogging, Sony has equipped the new Aibo with a “diary” feature that enables the robot dog to take photos and record short comments about the day’s activities. These can then be uploaded to a blog site on the Internet.

The new model Aibo can also say more than 1,000 English words, and in a nod to multi-culturalism, about 30 Spanish words and phrases such as sientate (sit down), ven aqui (come here), and buen perro (good dog).

The new Aibo will list for $1999. For the most complete third-party review, see PC Magazine’s β€œThe New Aibo Converses.”

About David Jacobson

David Jacobson is a journalist with experience on both sides of the Pacific. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in East Asian Studies and attended the Inter-University Center of the Japanese Language in Tokyo and Hitotsubashi University, the latter on a Mombu(kagaku)sho Scholarship. He has both covered and worked for the Japanese media, as a reporter, writer or producer for the Nikkei, NHK, and the Associated Press in Japan, and CNN, TV Asahi, and Nikkei BP in New York. He also has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business.