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    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    Next Big Thing: Pleo

    Sony Aibo was truly a wonderful piece of technology. These robotic dogs could run around, fetch a ball, and interact with humans in a somewhat realistic way. But it blew everyone's mind in the late 90's when it arrived. For some odd reason, or what seems to typify Sony, they shut down the project and now Aibos cease to exist.

    Pleo is the next big thing in robotics. Pleo is a robotic dinosaur, made for all ages, designed to emulate the appearance and behavior of a week-old baby Camarasaurus. It was designed by Caleb Chung, the co-creator of the Furby. Before you say dear god help us, read about what exactly this thing can do, according to Amazon:

    "Moves organically, expresses emotion, autonomously explores and responds to the world around him. Each Pleo has a unique personality that develops based on Pleo’s life experiences with you. On owners can connect, find training tips and download new enhancements to Pleo. Pleo’s sophisticated sensory system has devices that enable him to see, to sense touch, and to detect objects: a color camera, sound sensors, 2 infrared sensors, 14 motors, over 100 gears, 8 touch sensors, and an orientation sensor." Sounds more like a B-52 than a toy.

    All of this for $350 a pop. Pricey no? Inside is "a sophisticated sensory system consists of nearly 40 devices that enable him to see, sense, touch and detect objects in order to move autonomously and explore his environment without requiring any remote control. This robotic dinosaur includes a color camera with a white-light sensor that allows him to detect bright light from dark, see colors, detect motion, track a moving object, and perceive objects in front of him. The Pleo Life Form also has over 100 custom-designed gears, and 14 motors for highly-articulated movement. Each motor has a force feedback sensor that makes them sensitive to forceful grabs at the dinosaur's legs, neck, tail and torso, causing him to shut down during trauma to avoid internal damage. Pleo will actually react to being hurt, perhaps exhibiting a limp, and can recover over time depending on the level of nurturing you exhibit."

    Seems like artificial intelligence is the next leap in not just robotics but children's toys. This will be a hit; you can pre-order yours for $350 today.





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