Sony Aibo 1999-2006. It's a sad day for electric pet owners: Sony has had the Aibo put down. No longer will its chirpy little voice and drunken swagger delight and amuse children. Admittedly only rich children will feel the pain, as Aibo retailed for £1,450.
Crave has fond memories of Aibo. Though he never really seemed to understand commands properly, or move faster than a brain-damaged puppy, there was something charming about Sony's persistent efforts to make this a success. It seemed on the face of things a simple aspiration: to make an electronic version of a real dog. Rather than leap in at the deep end, like Honda, and attempt to replicate human behaviour in a robot, Sony opted for the easier task.
Perhaps the project managers became increasingly disillusioned as Aibo went through several revisions, each one honing the dog's skills in barely perceptible steps, until one day they revealed their greatest achievement yet: the Aibo with camouflaged ears. Clearly the development team's hearts were no longer in it, as Aibo was undergoing cheap cosmetic enhancements and not much more: the hallmark of many a fading star.
Heartbroken gadget lovers might consider the Robosapien, Roboraptor or Lego Mindstorm as worthy replacements for the departed Aibo. -CS