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The New AIBO Converses 06:14 PM Source:  PC Magazine
Sony AIBO ERS-7M2When Sony introduced the AIBO ERS-7M2 last year, it made a key concession to the U.S. robotics market: the entertainment robot needed to be a little useful, too. So, Sony integrated M2's Minds 2 software, which added simple calendaring features, wireless access and extensive remote control via your PC. Today, Sony continues to enhance AIBO's usability factor with its most obvious and, possibly, smartest upgrade yet—voice interaction.

The Sony AIBO ERS-7M3 will have a 1,000 word vocabulary that, Sony promises, will allow the dog to carry on simple conversations with you. When the new robotic pup ships later next month, it will be able to greet you when you come home, ask you about your day and even tell you how its own day went. The default voice is somewhat child-like, but users will, with the included Sony Entertainment Player software, be able to adjust the age and sex of AIBO's speaking voice. The ERS-7M3 is also Sony's first Spanish-speaking robot. He'll respond to 35 Spanish-language commands (a subset of the 100 English commands to which AIBO already responds).

As before, the Entertainment Player is installed separately on your PC. This latest version adds improved calendaring capabilities—so AIBO can remind you of upcoming events, birthdays, appointments, etc. The software will also let AIBO keep a diary of the day's activities that can include images and some brief comments. He can upload them on a daily basis or hold up to 30 entries on his memory stick and upload them all at once. These entries can even be fed, Sony promises, to a blog. The company didn't provide a complete list of compatible blogs, but reported that it should work with Moveable Type and Blogger. The software also adds an RSS reader, so AIBO can read you headlines from your favorite Web site.

AIBO's always had a personality, but now each robotic pet will ship with one of four personality types. One of them, the "Independent thinker" (Sony reps referred to it jokingly as the "Smart-Aleck"), will, Sony says, cause it to lose patience if, for example, you say the same thing a few times. So "How are you" said four times could result in an "I heard you the first time," response. Additional personalities include Independent instinctive, Dependent thinker and Dependent instinctive. These personality bents also mean that the dog will develop in a certain way, though Sony officials caution that it won't stay that way forever and can adjust to different personalities.

More info: PC Magazine


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