October 6, 2004 11:48 AM PDT

New Aibo is a dancing fool

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With its latest Aibo, Sony is borrowing a move or two from Chicken Dance Elmo.

The company said Wednesday that it has bred the newest model of the robotic dog, which debuted in its original form in 1999, to play back digital music files and songs from CDs--and to dance to the beat. The new Aibo is compatible with MP3, WAV and Windows Media files.

Aibo does other new tricks as well. For instance, owners can control, program and move the robot wirelessly from a PC, and software improvements speed reaction time for better response to voice commands, the company said. A scheduler is compatible with Microsoft Outlook, so the robot can remind its owner of appointments.

With the addition of video-recording capabilities, the digital pup now can function as a watchdog of sorts, recording activities about the house while homeowners are away. In addition, the Aibo Eyes function lets the robot take pictures, which can be retrieved via e-mail.

The new model of the robot, due out in mid-November, will be priced at about $1,900. A software upgrade for earlier versions is priced at $100.


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