Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks—even robot ones. Sony is reportedly re-forming the team behind its beloved robot dog Aibo, but now they will be focused on competing in the world of AI with the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple.
According to a report from Nikkei Asian Review, the electronics giant is looking to develop a new version of the adorable dog-bot to compete in the age of smart assistants. The new Aibo will be akin to a smart speaker in robotic dog form, “frolicking like a real dog while controlling home appliances at voice commands,” Nikkei writes. The company is also working to make sure the robot can mimic canine behavior using advanced electronics, making Aibo the perfect hypo-allergenic pet that can also play “Who Let the Dogs Out?” on repeat. (It’s not too late to get a Tamagotchi instead.)
Aibo was introduced back in 1999, but it was ahead of its time and the AI tech couldn’t keep up with the all the cool possibilities of a robot dog. Consumer interest ultimately waned. Now, though, the technology is vastly improved, meaning the robot dog could theoretically function autonomously and, say, fetch you an ice-cold Sapporo from the fridge (while you wait for the day when your fridge to bring it to you).
Since neither Amazon nor Google has rolled out a personal assistant robot yet, this could give Sony the edge in the field, because who wouldn’t prefer an adorable dog instead of a boring old smart speaker? The robotic pup is said to be part of a new wave of products from Sony that could help it catch up with AI-powered offerings now flooding the market. That should definitely earn Sony a pat on the head from investors.