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Teach An Old Aibo New Tricks 199

dipfan writes "After expending much energy trying to stop hackers from tinkering with its Aibo robot dog, Sony has finally realised it's not worth the effort and has decided to start giving away a 'non-commercial' developers kit. The kit is called OPEN-R SDK, which allows Aibo be programmed in C++, as part of Sony's efforts to promote its (so-called) OPEN-R architecture for robotic entertainment. Anyway, the really neat thing is that you can reprogram your Aibo to meow."
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Teach An Old Aibo New Tricks

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  • Yeah but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wonko the Sane 42 ( 183562 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:45PM (#3478348)
    ... can I reprogram it to clean my dorm room? Obviously my roomate never will... but maybe something more intelligent like a robot dog could manage it...
  • More corporations to be open about their products.. and allow us to ..ahem.. make better.

    • kr4p... This is how the palm pilot got started. First they give us a toy that we are free to expand and push. Next thing you know every corporate hack with a shirt pocket has one.

      As soon as people start monkeying around with this thing then everybody will have to have one. Once the tucows sony web site is up then we'll all spend our time downloading the latest program that will make our little dog look like its urinating all over the house.

  • that one of the big guys finally realized that they were only screwing themselves by going after people who just wanted to allow a product to have more uses then it origionally did, especially when they were not making any money on it.
    • They just didn't want a bunch of robo-dogs trying to dry hump peoples legs.

      Cant say I blame them.

    • Yeah, but I wonder what/who convinced Sony? They looked to me like they were on the same road to pig-headed, "we know what you need better than you do" attitude that the rest of the entertainment & music establishments exhibit.

      Is it possible that /. and similar, thru negative feedback, had a positive effect on the Sony way?

      I am admittedly geeky, that's why I hang out here; but it seemed pretty obvious to me from the beginning that alienating an entire consumer sub-culture would be bad for business. Especially when members of that sub-culture are more likely to be able to afford a pricy toy like Aibo.

      All in all, I'm glad they've opened it up some. Now, if I can just convince my wife to let me buy an expensive toy dog...
  • by owlmeat ( 197799 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:47PM (#3478367)
    Is an Aibo humping someone's leg.
    • I should have read before I posted my (now redundant) comment.
      It seems we share the same dream.
    • Perhaps the Aibo could be programmed to relieve itself on unsuspecting trees and fire hydrants... Of course this would require the engineering of a specialized hardware "bladder mod".

      I think the comedic value of a robot dog taking a piss on a tree (or perhaps a disliked neighbors porch) would be worth the time invested! But then again, maybe that's just me... :-)
    • Does this mean the Supreme Court will have to rule on whether or not sexually programmed Aibos violate rules on bestiality?
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marx_Mrvelous ( 532372 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:48PM (#3478374) Homepage
    If this, in combination with affectual computing, could make a pet that knows when you've had a bad day and bring you your slippers.
    • Who cares if it was a bad day? Bring slippers now!

      On a more serious note, I see that all the cool add-ons and stuff seem to require Windows of some flavor... anyone know if this C++ stuff is going to work from Linux and/or Mac OS X? Lego Mindstorm seems to have the same Windows-only problem (although I hear there's some Linux solutions out there for Lego, it can't possibly match the Lego-provided in-box software).

      Now maybe if Apple had a robotoy division...
  • Can you reprogram it to rub on people's legs instead of panting?
  • Somebody *MUST* program one.
  • At least one company is accepting the way things are. MPAA, you listening?
  • I assume it would be way too much to hope that they would give away their linux kit for PS2, since they seem to be in the mood.

    Is the only difference that they know people will pay for the PS2/linux kit, but think aibo hackers won't pony up?

    Oh, well, at least now my "dog" can compete in robot soccer and I won't get in trouble.
  • by cholokoy ( 265199 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:50PM (#3478387)
    Expect a new TV show about Battle-Aibots...

    Must be fun to watch them doing tricks..
  • Would this violate the hippocratic oath [] if there really was one for programmers?
  • by mughi ( 32874 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:50PM (#3478391)


    Unfortunately, I don't have enough free cash to get one of these puppies. :-( However I have at least one coworker who returned his when he found out how limited they were ( and the lack of SDK ) at the time.

    I hope this nod to the hackers [] out there is seen as a good means to motivate sales, even if only a few avail themselves of the opportunity. Between this and the PS2 Linux kit [], Sony is at least starting to become a more hacker-friendly company.

    Hacking hardware == good for sales.

  • by Devlin-du-GEnie ( 512506 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:50PM (#3478393)
    Dear Bill:

    I think Sony has a great idea here. Why don't we open the source for Clippy?

    Your friend,


    • Too Late!

      He's been cloned! []

    • by shawnmelliott ( 515892 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @02:20PM (#3478601) Journal
      Here you go. Close enough
      'Excel instance
      Dim xCel As Excel.Application
      'Our Assistant
      Dim Assist As Office.Assistant

      'Create a background instance of Excel
      Set xCel = New Excel.Application
      'Make certain it's not visible
      xCel.Visible = False
      'Load our assistant
      Set Assist = xCel.Assistant

      'Now show the assistant
      With Assist

      .Animation = msoAnimationGetAttentionMajor
      .Visible = True

      With .NewBalloon
      .Heading = "Hello..."
      .Text = "...What's an Aibo dog like you doing in a bar like this?"
      .Labels(1).Text = """" & "Getting Reprogrammed... Get lost creep!" & """"
      .Labels(2).Text = """" & "Looking for a Warez copy of OfficeXP so I don't have to " & _
      "deal with office scoundrel like you!" & """"
      .Mode = msoModeModal
      .Button = msoButtonSetNone

      call .Show

      End With

      end with

      set assist = nothing
      set xlcel = nothing
    • I believe the best way to Open "Clippy" is with a K-Bar knife...
  • by swagr ( 244747 )
    is an AIBO hump someone's leg.
  • Hey, this is cool, expecially if it's possible to program "close to the metal", which is what I really like.
    So, maybe I don't need to build my own robot, after all. This one could provide me with all the thrill and technical excitement, without the nuisance of putting together the electronics and the mechanics.
    And maybe, by studying this SDK, I can learn how to expand the Aibo, with additional motors, stronger activators, what you have.

    It all depends how much freedom does this SDK provide.

    • You don't need the SDK to swap out the motors and components of the Abio, although you might want to modify the operating code a bit so that the upgraded Abio doesn't accidently crush someone with it's more powerful motors...

      How long before someone equips an Abio with better feet, armor, camera, and a shotgun, and sells it as an all-terrain bomb-disarming robot?
  • Sony Loosens Leash on AIBO Robot Dog

    Filed at 11:22 a.m. ET

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Who says you can't teach an old robotic dog new tricks? As of next month, Sony Corp will offer free software kits for its plastic pet dog, called AIBO, which will give owners many more training options.

    AIBO will even be able to meow rather than bark.

    Up to now, most AIBO owners could only play with a pre-trained computerized pet whose behavior was largely defined by Sony's programming, but the new software kit will allow experienced users to teach the dog any amount of new tricks.

    The release of the development kit, called OPEN-R SDK, is an about-face for the Japanese audiovisual electronics giant, which had tried to cage in independent developers who were hacking into the AIBO's electronic innards and making what Sony claimed were unauthorized modifications.

    ``Sony wants to actively promote OPEN-R architecture for entertainment robots by highlighting its ability to modify the robot's functionality,'' it said in a statement, essentially admitting that open development would help widen the appeal of the robot.

    Sony says the development kit, which allows AIBO movements to be written in the C++ programming language, is intended for noncommercial use. Sony will also create a Web site where developers can exchange their custom-made AIBO programs.

  • ... I can tech my Aibo to stop piddling on the rug and start using the newspaper. Man, this reality-in-pet-robots has got to stop somewhere...
  • Lego set a great example, and received the rewards of respecting the community that buys/programs their product. Sony was scared, but they've learned. Good. Maybe more can.
  • I would consider it a compliment if someone took my invention/product and did some new inventive things with them.

    I can't ever see myself forking over the dough to buy one of those things, but i'd think that the average Joe would see these "hacks" and think "wow, look at all the cool things an Aibo can do. Sony made a great product"

    Hell, at the very least, it's free (and positive) advertising right?

  • I can see it now. Local hacker sued after aibo takes off neighbor's hand...details at 10...
  • by Guido69 ( 513067 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:52PM (#3478407) Homepage
    ...nope, Lego didn't purchase Sony. (Hey, there's a cool hack. Program the Aibo to in turn program a Mindstorm set to build a doghouse out of itself.) Thank you, Sony. We appreciate it.
  • *meow* (Score:4, Funny)

    by mosch ( 204 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:53PM (#3478410) Homepage
    If I wanted to hear something meow, I'd have somebody call my cell phone [].
  • I'd rather spend my time programming a robot that can do useful things as well as tricks.

    But then again I guess this is a necessary first step. Start small and eventually work your way up in complexity. First do tricks, then do something useful.

    Before it goes into widescale use, however, its going to have to: 1) Be cheaper 2) be useful (not just fun), 3) durable . In my opinion anyway

  • by thrillbert ( 146343 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:53PM (#3478413) Homepage
    Assimilated Press (2002) - ROBOT OWNERS beware. Hackers recently started infiltrating Sony's Aibo robot dogs and have reprogrammed them to be fight dogs. In the latest incident, a 14 year old child was attacked and mangled by his pet robot.

    Yoshi Yanamura, speaking on conditions of anynomity said "this is the reason we didn't want anyone reprogramming the robots. This was totally expected. Good thing we didn't include the 10 MegaJule laser add-on, then we would really have problems".

    Sony Corporation says the best way to protect yourself is to not recharge the robots after you have been attacked.

    If I only had a brain...
    • Sony Corporation says the best way to protect yourself is to not recharge the robots after you have been attacked.

      I can imagine the next Terminator movie being about an AIBO that CAN recharge itself and what happens because of it. Here's a line from the script:

      Arnold: The man most directly responsible is Yoshi Yanamura, Director of Special Projects at Sony Corporation. In a few months he creates a revolutionary type of mircoprocessor. He uses it to create AIBO, an overpriced robotic companion for kids. On the side, Sony uses the AIBO to perfect its manufacturing process in military computers The government reprograms the AIBO to accept military objectives.

      In three years Sony will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Sony computers, becoming fully unmanned, Afterward, the fly with a perfect operational record.

      The AIBOnet funding bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 2002. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. AIBOnet begins to learn, at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. eastern time, August 29.

      In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

      Oh yeah, in this movie AIBOnet produced gigantic two-legged dogs, so the Terminator has a slight resemblance to Scooby Doo.

    • Looks like I better call Old Glory Insurance and take out a Robot Attack policy...
    • This may seem a bit twisted, but I would absolutely love to see robotic dogs fight instead of those stupid wedges on battle bots.

      I just have these visions of the robotic dog from every bad cartoon of my childhood with metal shard teeth going after each other.

      I'm gonna get me one of these things to enter into battle bots.
  • After expending much energy...

    That text is crying for a link to a news story about their efforts to stop the "hackers."

    Here's a good one. []

  • > the really neat thing is that you can reprogram your Aibo to meow.

    And, like, what if c-a-t really spelled "dog"? Whoa...

    (Bonus points to anyone who gets that obscure Revenge of the Nerds II reference.)
  • When I attended the RoboCup 2001 competition in Seattle, the students had reprogrammed new behaviors and movements into their Aibos -- with Sony's blessing. My never-quite-finished report on the event, with links to photos and AVIs, is at:
    I was told that the Aibos and the programming stations (used by the college teams competing in the Aibo competition) were not regular retail devices, but clearly Sony was endorsing the notion of reprogramming Aibo, at least by experts-in-training. (Sony was a major sponsor of the event.)

    It was amusing to see some of the new behaviors programmed by students in an effort to make the Aibos play better soccer. While the Aibo plays lousy soccer (due to extremely limited memory and a design focus on "cuteness" instead of efficiency), they are absolutely fun to watch.

    • I think that perhaps this is a bit more of a step because at the stage you are talking about they wanted publicity and images of the dogs "intelligently" playing soccer are good for sales.
      But this is really open and publicity from what most people will get the dogs to do is not good, i mean there are alredy posts suggesting aibo mounting a leg...definately not good as far as Sony are concerned
  • If Sony puts in three axes of accelerometer and three axes of rate gyro (which is quite feasible, and not too expensive by Aibo standards), along with current/torque sensing from the motors, real legged locomotion control would be possible. Right now, they're locked into a basic position-control model, which is why Aibo motion looks so mechanical. It's a beautiful piece of machinery, but it lacks the sensors to do the job right.
  • sweet.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:56PM (#3478437) Homepage
    Now someone can make it say "... For me to Poop On!" after everything it does.
  • I saw the "Open-R archicture" and thought for a moment they were going for a play on Scooby Doo's voice. Heh.
  • $1000 for a dog? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PoiBoy ( 525770 ) <(moc.sgnidlohiop) (ta) (nairb)> on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:57PM (#3478449) Homepage
    The less expensive dog is $999 according to their online store.

    Instead, you could go to your local humane society and get a REAL dog for well under $100, and the remaining $900 would be more than enough for at least a couple years' food and vet check-ups. They're more fun, too, and programmable!

    • Re:$1000 for a dog? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mughi ( 32874 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @02:18PM (#3478587)

      Well... yes. Perhaps.

      Unfortunately, our dog had a neck infection (year and a half ago) and just that alone ended up totallying close to $1000. Adopting a real dog [] is usually a very good thing, and even has nice health benefits for the owner [].

      However, it's a true commitment. Unlike they Aibo, you can't just take out the batteries and leave a dog on the shelf. Just consider well [] before getting a live animal.

      For some, an Aibo would be better. And for some both work. Just watching a dog deal with an RC car can be fun enough. :-)

    • Real dogs leave a real mess, a real stink and you can't turn them off or take them apart without going to years of medical school.

      They arn't much brighter than Aibo either. (Some breeds, like newfoundlands, can't even take care of their own children because they sit on them by accident.)

      I say, let the dogs be wild, and let the robots be pets.

      "And the animals i've trapped have all become my pets"
  • Aibo in context (Score:5, Interesting)

    by daeley ( 126313 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @01:58PM (#3478452) Homepage
    One of my favorite pictures that I've seen in recent memory was from this past January's National Geographic, in an article about the evolution of dogs from wolves: a wolf, a dog, and an Aibo hanging out []. From the page:

    Facing the Future
    Even with its battery removed, an Aibo robot got the full attention of Koda the wolf and Simon the Maltese during a studio shoot. Koda, a trained captive-born wolf, had worked with Simon but not with the robot. At first he moved away from the motionless Aibo, says photographer Robert Clark. Then, curious, he sniffed it and chewed off a plastic ear. Doug Seus, Koda's owner and trainer, says that while dogs can easily form new relationships after they are about six months old, wolves are genetically programmed not to accept strangers. "It's a built-in survival technique to limit the size of the pack." Confronted with the unknown, wolves are either extremely timid or extremely aggressive, he says. "They may look like a big dog, but they are psychologically different."
    • The Nat'l Geographic thing is cool, but I'm wondering why Koda didn't nip an ear off Simon the Maltese as well.
      • Re:What about Simon? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by daeley ( 126313 )
        The article (not available online in full as far as I can find) mentioned that 'Wolf and dog were provided by Doug Seus's Wasatch Rocky Mountain Wildlife, Utah' -- they actually grew up together so were pretty familiar with each other. Some more text online (from this page [])

        Raw meat and doggy snacks kept these distant cousins in line over a two-day photo shoot, says photographer Robert Clark. And even that only bought him seconds of time to snap this quirky, yet captivating image featured on the January cover of National Geographic.

        "Getting the wolf in the right position with the right expression was the hardest thing," Clark says. "It took me 120 frames to get what I wanted."

        What he wanted most was a portrait that captured poise and eyes so attuned to the camera that they followed the viewer right off the page. At the same time, he also needed an image simple enough to clinch the story's headline, "Wolf to Woof," with one glance, while still getting people to wonder how they got the two together.

        But more than getting Koda and Simon to stand up, sit down, or look at the 140mm lens on his Mamiya-RZ67 camera, the key ingredient to capturing this photograph was planning.

        Three days before the shoot Clark transformed a garage into a studio with a backdrop, a platform, and six strobe lights to highlight the animals' fur. Although Koda has starred in TV commercials and an Imax movie, he needed time to shed his skittishness and warm up to the environment.

        "At one point, all the people were talking, and the wolf just let out a beautiful low-level howl... as if he was howling at the moon," Clark says. "It was beautiful, but it reminded us that even though he was trained, we were still with a wild animal."
    • Looking at the picture, I had the distinct impression that the wolf looked the most advanced of the three.
  • Anyway, the really neat thing is that you can reprogram your Aibo to meow

    How about fitting an aibo with claws and have it scratch the furniture?

  • Can I teach it to poop on Ozzy Osbourne's carpet?
  • Who says.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by h0tblack ( 575548 ) can't teach an old dog new tricks ;)

    It was interesting to hear some of the comments about the Aibo from ppl close to Sony at last years GDCE. Masaya Matsuura mentioned that some of the people around the design department got extremely upset with some of the things that the Aibo was made to do.
    "In Matsuura's office they had an Aibo for the employees to care for and play with. The Aibo is attracted to the color pink--he has a pink ball that he will walk up to and kick or butt with his head. To test the programming of Aibo, one of Matsuura's programmers tied a pink ball to a wire, attached to Aibo, dangling in front of his face. Of course, Aibo kept on walking forward, never stopping. A female employee was upset at this "torturing" of Aibo and sent a memo to Matsuura, causing an investigation as to why the robot dog was tortured and if others were upset by this."
  • by plexxer ( 214589 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @02:01PM (#3478479)
    It's C++ now, but I am sure they will adapt other languages soon...

    VisualBasic: Look how easy, I just drag the 'Bone' object over the 'Mouth' Object! Unfortunately, with the run-time, I can't fit any other code in there.

    C#: It will go get the paper, but only if you first verify the subscription status.

    Perl: Look, I can make it jump, bark, and fetch with this one line: //S/#?$$/../!{*&?[->]};

    • by kirkb ( 158552 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @03:52PM (#3479180) Homepage
      Java - Pet owners rejoice at the possibility of a dog that will do its own "garbage collection".

      Lisp - Dog can't do much, but is great at running around in circles chasing its tail.

      COBOL - Dog will only fetch business-related newspapers. Preferably issues from 1978.
      • Quake-C: The dog kicks your ass, then claims to 0wn j00.

        C: the dog runs around incredibly fast but falls over a lot and crashes (into things)

        Fortran77: your dog knows pi to 5 million places but can't interface with windows.


    • You seem to think two incorrect things:

      1) That the RAD IDE of Visual Basic allows an almost CAD-like programming experience. (There are completely visual programming languages, but they are experimental and non-mainstream).

      2) That C# is only for writing subsciption-based software. While this may be the sorry-ass future of commercial programming, most c# programming right now has nothing to do with subscription at all.


      Sorry for any offense caused

      • He was doing satire. That's where you take a salient point about a person or thing and make fun of it.

        A 'salient point' about VB is the ads and promotional material that describe how easy it is to create an application using drag and drop. A 'salient point' about C# is that it only compiles to .NET, which Microsoft advertises heavily with web services.

        A one liner joke should not be criticised for not covering the whole issue.
  • The Cybie "robot" dog toy is 100 times cheaper and there is enough room inside it to place a dimmpc inside giving it a ton more processing power and memory/storage. My dimmpc devel board fit's along with the CF card adapter (get out the dremel and make a CF card slot to save even more space) I saw somewhere on the net (abio hacking site I believe) that had a project mapping out the motor control systems.

    the Abio is neat, but it needs more processing power... but at it's price tag it is too expensive to gut like a cybie.
  • Interesting, from the FAQ at [] Windows 2K or XP is require for the SDK, but what's weird is they use gcc.

    Look at the SDK download files list:

    (OPEN-R SDK tools and documents)
    OPEN_R_SDK-1.1.3-r1.tar.gz OPEN-R SDK
    OPEN_R_SDK-sample-1.1.3-r1.tar.gz Sample programs
    OPEN_R_SDK-doc-1.1.3-r1.tar.gz Documents
    upgrade-OPEN_R-1.1.3-r1.tar.gz FlashUpdater for ERS-210

    (Binaries for cross development tools for Windows 2000/XP)
    GNU Tools can be downloaded from this WEB site, but they are not
    included in the OPEN-R SDK.
    cygwin-packages-1.3.6-bin.exe Cygwin binaries
    mipsel-devtools-3.0.4-bin.tar.gz MIPS cross-development tools for Cygwin

    (Source files for cross development tools)
    cygwin-packages-1.3.6-src.tar.gz Cygwin source files
    gcc-3.0.4.tar.gz gcc source files
    binutils-2.11.2.tar.gz binutils source files
    newlib-1.9.0.tar.gz newlib source files

    (Other Tools) Shell script for building cross
    development tools

    Looks real Linux/Gnu-ish to me.

    • I'm not sure what they've done. But surely they're using Gnu tools for the public SDK because (a) they exist already and (b) GPL distribution.

      Now the real question, is this their internal SDK or have they ported something for us?

      BTW, the cygwin stuff provides connectivity between gcc and the Windows API.

  • Open != Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @02:06PM (#3478516) Journal
    Anyone interested in an Open Robotics system PLEASE ignore this SONY-BS and have a look at this: Open PINO platform []

  • It is good to see that Sony is opening up a little. This, in addition to the PS2 Linux kit (waiting to get mine any day now) shows that the future of computing may be much more open that it is now, because when Sony teams up with IBM (and Toshiba, I suppose I should mention)to form the Cell platform, I think Intel and Microsoft would be hard-pressed to stop these three companies.
  • To fight our wars?
    If they come back, Decker can hunt them down. We haven't programmed them with empathy. That's the difference, you see.
  • Now it's going to start crapping batteries on my neighbor's lawn. Take that!
  • Once the aibo linux distro comes out, there will be no stopping these crazy dog programmers.
  • I'm surprised no one's asked yet. Place your bets. How long till we see a web server ported to AIBO?
  • How long before someone teaches their Aibo to hump the legs of people it meets?

    If I had $1500 I'd buy one. Damn tech market economy...
  • Somebody set me up the unclosed italics. Appears to be linked to "OS X (Apple)" stories, but no promises. Oh, lite mode.
  • Uh.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SoVeryWrong ( 576783 )
    <extracted from the open_r faq>
    14. Send and get data using Wireless LAN (TCP/IP)

    Am I the only one who noticed this? I wonder how long it'll take for some ambitious hacker to make a portable webserver, a firewall that barks, or in a more malicious context, an adorable little password cracker that does tricks for the sysadmin while it's downloading sensitive data?

  • by CrazyJim0 ( 324487 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @02:31PM (#3478675)
    Call it a pack. Wulf, dog. get it?

    Look its running Linux. Its running. ha ha

    *expects to be modded down to -5 troll*
  • It's only a matter of time before someone duct tapes a knife to one of these guys and programs it to kill.

    Maybe then Sony will have incentive to have the Robotic Laws put into all the Aibots.
  • Sony almost has a clue now:

    Step 1: Make cool hardware
    Step 2: Open up the architecture and some/all software
    Step 3: PROFIT.

    It worked for Apple in 1979... we're slowly coming full circle.

    I have a Sony DVD changer at home. The unit looks nice and all, but the software absolutely SUCKS MONKEY NUTS. The UI is slower than molasses, it took me two days to enter all my titles, and it sometimes forgets them or just gets confused about which disc is where. Most of the buttons on the remote don't work as expected - it's a mess. I will never buy another piece of home AV equipment from them again. That changer was an utter piece of shit, and it was entirely due to bad software. What could they possibly have to lose by opening the firmware?

    Except for video games, it seems that Japan Inc. simply doesn't get it (or doesn't care) when it comes to software. Keep making the great hardware, but let the folks who know best hack on the software.
  • Give me a programmable Teddy from the movie A.I. He seems more useful than a robot dog. OK given the fact that his visual and speech recognition capabilities aren't real (commercially anyway). But I'd still take a fuzzy, unassuming bear that people will think is just a stuffed toy and have him suddent sit/stand up and start walking around and looking at people. That would be fun as hell.
  • Call me when they come up with robotic domo-kuns [] that I can get to chase my kitty around.
  • Meow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Traa ( 158207 ) on Tuesday May 07, 2002 @03:33PM (#3479053) Homepage Journal
    Alternative way to make your Aibo meow is to toss it in the freezer for a while and then run it through the circle saw....MEEEEOOWWWWWWWwwww

  • If you can afford an Aibo why don't you get a maid?
  • by Jouster ( 144775 )
    ... that I found in January when I was researching this for a professor:

    • Site Gutted by Sony based on DMCA
      My Take:
      This site is great. I think this is exactly what we need. The only thing that really got removed per the story referenced below is "virgin" copies of Aibo-Life, because everything you could possibly want, and more, is available, including "RCodePlus", which appears to be a utility for writing and transferring RCode ("Plus" some [] extensions) to your Aibo.

      Summary: [] had much of its content removed because it built on Sony's AiboWare, but added new features.
      Among its programs:
      AiboScope: Wirelessly transmits images from robot's camera to a computer
      Disco Aibo: Execute a programmable dance when Aibo hears a certain song.
      Brainbo: Uses voice-recognition. When Aibo hears a phrase, Aibo selects an appropriate response and "says" it.

      Source: story?coll=la-headlines [] (old) bo [] (new, needs registration)
    • AIBO Uses Copy-Protection on its Memory Sticks
      My Take:
      While it would probably be trivial to overcome Sony's copy-protection algorithms, it's not worth the bother. $35 for a PMS (Programmable Memory Stick) is money well spent, and if all the code consists of is bootstrapping into the WLAN, we'd only need one for each 'bot.

      Sony makes red/pink memory sticks specifically for the Aibo. They contain copy-protection code that means that you can't copy their programs from one stick to another (unless, of course, the second one already had that program installed).

      Source: []
    • Japan-Only AiboWare Releases
      My Take:
      Nothing new here.

      Sony released several pieces of AiboWare that are only available in Japan. Based on what a friend of mine could manage to decode, there's nothing here to pique our interest.

      Source: are.htm [] (in Japanese)
    • More-or-less Complete 210 Hardware Reference
      My Take:
      Note that the 200Mhz (!) CPU uses the MIPS IV instruction set, for which there are no shortage of compilers. We may be in luck yet! (Of course, we might have to replace the current flash ROM with a custom one to develop that luck, but based on other readings, there seems to be very little code in the flash ROM and a heck of a lot of JPEGs of the development team.) You want to read this page.

      Source: []
    • Brain Surgery: a Tool for Editing AiboLife
      My Take:
      An excellent tool, but not very applicable to our particular challenge. Nonetheless, a useful resource of which to be aware.

      Basically, Brain Surgery allows users to view and edit the data Aibo "feels". What does this mean? You can abuse your Aibo, and fix it yourself--no Sony required.

      Source: []

    Now, some explanations are in order.

    First of all, the Aibo is programmed in something called "R-Code", part of the "Open-R" standard. The odd thing about this is that Open-R gets licensed to other companies for a fee, and the documentation is not available. Not so sure where the "Open" came from. At any rate, R-Code is a poor imitation of assembly language that is interpreted in real time by the Aibo. Only one program, Sony []'s Master Studio [], is capable of producing R-Code through anything other than editing the R-Code directly.

    One of the interesting things about Sony's marketing strategy is that they intended changes you made to the Aibo to be well-nigh permanent. The idea was to get people to send in their Aibos if they didn't take proper care of the little beasties, charge an exorbitant fee for resetting them to the "newborn" state, and send them back. It apparently surprised Sony quite a bit that, when they released Aibo in the U.S., people started clamoring for a tool to allow them to do these resets themselves. It apparently surprised them even more that U.S. consumers wanted a way to bypass the entire, carefully-scripted AiboLife evolution and go straight to an Aibo adult.

    In general, U.S. owners wanted to hack their Aibos, Japanese owners wanted to watch their Aibos grow.

    On another terribly-interesting note: Brain Surgery allows you to see the internal phonemes for the name you gave your Aibo. This has come in handy at least once when I was trying to determine how I was saying a command incorrectly.

    • > ... that I found in January when I was researching this for a professor:

      > Site Gutted by Sony based on DMCA

      I'm not sure where you found it, but that is significantly out of date.

      You will see and are running with lots of new content

      Some minor comments:

      > AIBO Uses Copy-Protection on its Memory Sticks
      > My Take:
      > While it would probably be trivial to overcome > Sony's copy-protection algorithms, it's not > > worth the bother. $35 for a PMS (Programmable > Memory Stick) is money well spent...

      Actually it is a rather secure copy-protection mechanism.

      Back doors that were left open in the first AIBO 210 release have been closed. Copy protection is important to Sony.

      You are correct in that most AIBO owners will just buy the memory sticks (since they can afford $1000+ toys)
      > Japan-Only AiboWare Releases
      > Sony released several pieces of AiboWare that are only available in Japan.

      Some of it is junk (IMHO), but some of it is good. Some software teaches your AIBO to play cards. Others are just more active or imaginative personalities.

      Since AIBO understands voice commands, the Japanese sticks must be translated to understand English.

      > More-or-less Complete 210 Hardware Reference
      The problem is not the CPU, but all the custom peripherals.

      > First of all, the Aibo is programmed in something called "R-Code", part of the "Open-R" standard.

      Actually RCODE is a script-like language that YOU can use to program your AIBO.

      Most of Aibo's brain is written in C++.

      > Only one program, Sony []'s Master Studio [], is capable of producing R-Code through anything other than editing the R-Code directly.

      Check out AbNet ( if interested in writing your own RCODE. There are tools to make RCODE easier to write (and more like C/C++)

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde