Sony gets cute with new Aibo models

Sony Corp. unveiled a new version of its pet robot, Aibo, on Wednesday. In the 11 months since the company launched its previous model, Aibo has been given a face lift, improved speech recognition and a lower price.

The new Aibo, Sony's third and arguably cutest model yet, comes in two variations: the ivory-colored ERS-311, named "Latte," and the gray-colored ERS-312, called "Macaron." Modelled partly on a bear cub and partly on a puppy, each has its own personality, with Latte programmed to be adorable and Macaron to be mischievous, said Aki Shimazu, a spokeswoman for Sony.

The speech recognition function has been expanded to 70 words from 50 in the previous model and Aibo now has the ability to learn its own name and that of its owner.

In addition to words, Aibo will also be able to recognize special sounds, intended to be broadcast over television, the radio or Internet. The first application for this system, called Medialink, will be in a new Sony-sponsored animated cartoon. Called Piroppo, the cartoon will feature the two new Aibo cubs and run on Japan's Fuji Television Network weekly from Oct. 11 between 10:54 p.m. and 11 p.m., right before the main evening news.

Good news for prospective owners is that the new models are also the cheapest yet in the Aibo family. Sony said it will put them on sale in Japan from Sept. 22 priced at 98,000 yen (US$823), one-third lower than the previous generation, the ERS-210, which sold for 150,000 yen -- and much cheaper than the first-generation ERS-110 that was priced at 250,000 yen.

The lower prices are part of a company strategy to increase ownership by extending the range at both the low- and high-end. The large number of enquiries received after Aibo played a leading role in a recent Janet Jackson music video convinced Sony that a large market exists among teens if the price can be lowered to a suitable level, Yoshinao Kambe, assistant manager of international marketing at Sony's Entertainment Robot Company division, said in a recent interview with IDG News Service. The price tag of the new models may still mean they remain out of the hands of all but the wealthiest teens, but Sony is going for a different audience. "They are aimed at women in their 20s and 30s," said Shimazu. "We wanted to widen the market segment."

The robots will also go on sale overseas. Sony is planning to start taking orders in the U.S. and Europe in October, where they will carry respective price tags of US$850 and 980 euros. The U.S. and European versions will not have the special personalities, said Shimazu.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?