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Speak, Aibo, speak

Sony's robot dog is learning some new tricks and, as a true pet of the technology age, will be able to fetch e-mail.

Sony's robot dog is learning some new tricks and, as a true high-tech pet, will be able to fetch e-mail.

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 Aibo sheds one-trick-doggy image
Stuart Wallock, Sony Entertainment Robot America
Marking Aibo's second anniversary, Sony introduced three software applications and three new colors--white, violet and green--for its robot dog. Aibo will still be available in its original gold, silver and black colors.

The most productive of the new software titles is the Aibo Messenger. The software works with a wireless LAN (local area network) card, allowing the Aibo ERS-210 to alert owners when a new message enters their PC's e-mail in-box. Aibo can then read the message aloud to the owner. The Aibo can also read text from pre-selected Web sites.

The software comes on a CD and is installed on a PC. The software converts text into sound files, which can be played by the second-generation Aibo ERS-210. The Messenger will be available in late July.

The ERS-210 costs $1,500. According to Sony, the consumer electronics giant has sold about 50,000 of its dogs in the past two years.

Aibo Navigator for the ERS-210 will be available on CD in late June. Navigator will allow owners to remotely control the Aibo using a PC. Owners will be able to dictate Aibo's movements and make it dance from about 300 feet away.

In April, Sony introduced a similar application called the Aibo Master Studio, which allowed owners to program dance and play routines on a PC and download them onto a Memory Stick, Sony's proprietary flash memory card, which is then inserted into an Aibo.

The third new software Sony will introduce is the Party Mascot for the first-generation Aibo. The first-generation Aibo will be able to play 11 games using the new software program, which is expected in early June.

The three software titles each cost $150 or less.