LAS VEGAS--Pleo is an autonomous toy dinosaur robot that became more or less fossilized in 2009 when the company behind it went extinct. But it's been relaunched at CES as Pleo Rb with improved interactive features, longer battery life, and better skin.
Pleo Rb (for "reborn") is designed to be an emotional robot. The Life OS artificial-intelligence system in each Pleo has unique innate personality traits such as obedience and courage. They begin life as a hatchling Camarasaurus, either male (blue) or female (pink), and then go through infant and juvenile stages, interacting with their owner and the environment as they go through mood and health changes. Users can download personalities and behaviors from developer sites, and upload them to the robot via its SD card slot.
Priced at $469, Pleo is packed with sensors to see, hear, and feel its environment. The reborn model has voice recognition to respond to a given name, motion sensing, awareness of the time of day, and even a temperature sensor that makes it shiver in a cold room.
Infrared sensors enable it to communicate with other Pleos. When two males meet, they'll shout at each other, but a male and female will nuzzle. Meanwhile, the lithium polymer battery life has been upped to 120 to 150 minutes.
One problem that earlier Pleos had was that the skin paint would flake easily (the Pleo Rb still comes with a cotton cape). Innvo Labs, the company currently distributing the toy, says the pacifier-like thermoplastic material has been reformulated to last far longer.
Another new feature is Learning Stone technology--essentially plastic stones containing RFID chips. Like the patterned cards that came with Sony's Aibo robot dog, the stones trigger behaviors in Pleo such as dance, bow, count, sing, and come here.
Other RFID accessories, such as a plastic leaf, enable Pleo to eat--and if it doesn't eat, it becomes a sick, irritable little dinosaur. Didn't Jurassic Park begin like that?