Sony's tribute to Barbara Woodhouse
It doesn't need feeding, crap on your carpet, chase your cat or bite your neighbour. No, not your flat mate but AIBO -- Sony's brand new robotic dog.
A more sophisticated relative of Doctor Who's trusty companion K9 and distantly related to Battle Star Galactica's Muffet, AIBO walks on all fours, has a moving head, tail and mouth and is capable of both reacting to external stimuli and learning from its own behaviour.
Not very cuddly though. Touch sensors recognise tactile stimulation, a CCD camera allows it to `see', a miniature speaker lets it bark and growl and an acceleration sensor helps keep its (or should I say his?) balance and get up after a fall.
And, wait for it, an optional software package lets you programme new tricks and movements, which are transferred to a memory stick and entered into AIBO. Barbara Woodhouse would have field day. He's (see, I'm getting attached now) based on a 64-bit RISC microprocessor, has 16 Mb of memory and runs on Sony's Aperios operating system.
But think twice before you give Fido marching orders. Sony are limiting the first litter to 5000 and restricting it to Japanese and US canine lovers.
Still, if you've got $2083 (£1300) spare and a friend in the US then you too could be the proud owner of AIBO.