A new six-inch high robot dog that can dance to music, guard your laptop and respond to more than 50 voice commands is being launched by Japanese toy maker, Takara Tomy. The Omnibot I-SoDog can also eat ‘food’ that you offer it from your smartphone.
I-SoDog was launched at the Tokyo Toy Show, but won’t be available in the shops until Spring 2013.
The robot uses 15 servo motors to enable it to move realistically (if dancing is a realistic dog movement, discuss). Its little doggy eyes light up, and you can give it commands to shake a paw or lie down. You can also control its movements by tilting your phone.
You can place the robot on an item such as your laptop, and give the command to ‘guard’. The robot will bark if anyone tries to move the item it’s guarding. It has touch sensors and microphones so it can interact with its surroundings, and has a 3D accelerometer to help it not fall over.
The sensors on the top of the head and back let the dog know if you’re stroking or patting it, and there’s a sensor in its nose that can transmit information, so that you can bring two robot dogs together and they can exchange information. There are no details of what the dogs actually do with the information, though.
There’s a remote controller that can be used to interact with the robot if you don’t have a smartphone. Interactions with smartphones and tablet PCs use a Bluetooth connection. You will be able to build your own dance routines using the controller that comes with the dog.
The I-SoDog also has a Tamagotchi-style artificial life component so you can download your dog’s personality to your phone and interact with it there. Any changes to the personality during the day will then be uploaded back to the robot when reunited with the smartphone. It can be told off if it behaves badly, and rewarded with non-fattening digital doggy treats. The makers point out that this will allow you to build your robot dog’s own individual personality. It also has a voice mail system, just like your average mutt.
I-SoDog reminds me very much of Aibo, the robot dog manufactured by Sony from 1999 to 2006, which even though much more limited had an engaging and enchanting personality, loved by children and adults alike. If I-SoDog has its pedigree, then this new breed of dog should delight a new generation.