Design & Emotion Blog

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Pleo will have to make us forget about Aibo

Michael Kanellos wrote this article for C|Net news

Quote from the article:

“To date, cute and cuddly robots have died quick and horrific deaths. Sony’s Aibo was introduced to great fanfare, but only about 150,000 sold in the six years the company had it on the market. A wisecracking boy-humanoid called Qrio never made it out of the factory. Panasonic came out with robotic pets, but dropped them–now the company is considering coming out with robots that will pick up hospital patients or help individuals who have arm injuries.

The Pleo, though, will differ in a few respects from earlier attempts at companion robots. First, it will cost around $250 when it hits shelves slightly later than planned, in the second quarter next year. (Ugobe showed it off earlier this year at the Demo 2006 conference.) While the Aibo sold for $1,900, the Pleo tag is closer to the price of two of the more successful robot products on the market: the $99 Robosapien toys from WowWee and the floor-cleaning robots from iRobot, which are priced from $99 to $400.

Second, Ugobe will try to go beyond selling a walking/talking toy. The company will publish a developers’ kit and open its source code, making the Pleo something of a cousin to the Lego Mindstorms kits or the old Radio Shack 64-in-1 electronics kits. Consumers thus will be able to download “personality modules” and see how their Pleos react to different stimuli.”

Each time I have seen an Aibo in action, I have to admit I was a bit bored with it. It only had a few “funny features” and didn’t learn that well either. What I think can make the difference in this new home-robot-toy-thingy Pleo, is the possibility to experiment yourself and personalise some of the features through these “personality modules”. I can already see it becoming a hit with the tech savy used-to-play-with-lego people.

I am not quite sure about the real emotional content and expression the Pleo has to offer, but it seems fun, for sure. At least more fun than Aibo.

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