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Sony to Publish Aibo Specifications 108

teambpsi writes: "According to this CNN news report... 'In addition to the new hardware, the company has also begun publishing details of Aibo's system architecture on the Internet in an attempt to get developers to work on independent software for Aibo and generate more interest in the products.' This from the same company that used the DMCA as reported here on slashdot last fall to shutdown one fan/hack site."
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Sony to Publish Aibo Specifications

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  • by smcavoy ( 114157 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:05PM (#3554620)
    I think initially they were worried about loss of control/dilution of their product. Now I think they realize just how powerful having open specs on their product can be. Instead of having to hire dozens of progammers/managers/support personal, they can rely on the opensource community.
    Now if they had a program where by developers got cheaper units, in return for producing code...... that would catch like wild fire, for the shear coolness factor :)
    • This is totally offtopic, but this one is starting to appear a lot, so I just wanted to point it out.

      From Merriam-Webster OnLine: Main Entry: 1 shear Pronunciation: 'shir Function: verb Inflected Form(s): sheared; sheared or shorn /'shOrn, 'shorn/; shearing Etymology: Middle English sheren, from Old English scieran; akin to Old Norse skera to cut, Latin curtus shortened, Greek keirein to cut, shear, Sanskrit krnAti he injures Date: before 12th century transitive senses 1 a : to cut off the hair from b : to cut or clip (as hair or wool) from someone or something; also : to cut something from c chiefly Scottish : to reap with a sickle d : to cut or trim with shears or a similar instrument 2 : to cut with something sharp 3 : to deprive of something as if by cutting 4 a : to subject to a shear force b : to cause (as a rock mass) to move along the plane of contact intransitive senses 1 : to cut through something with or as if with a sharp instrument 2 chiefly Scottish : to reap crops with a sickle 3 : to become divided under the action of a shear (the bolt may shear off)

      Main Entry: 3 sheer Function: adjective Etymology: Middle English schere freed from guilt, probably alteration of skere, from Old Norse skærr pure; akin to Old English scInan to shine Date: circa 1568 1 obsolete : BRIGHT, SHINING 2 : of very thin or transparent texture : DIAPHANOUS 3 a : UNQUALIFIED, UTTER (sheer folly) (sheer ignorance) b : being free from an adulterant : PURE, UNMIXED c : viewed or acting in dissociation from all else 4 : marked by great and continuous steepness synonym see STEEP - sheerly adverb - sheerness noun

      Hence, it would be the sheer coolness factor :-)

  • DMCA (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DarkZero ( 516460 )
    This from the same company that used the DMCA as reported here on slashdot last fall to shutdown one fan/hack site."

    Yeah, and they should be applauded for being Reformed Assholes. Instead, every article about them on every tech site includes a little disclaimer like this after it, much like the ones that follow Current Assholes like Senator Hollings ("This is the man that supposed --insert evil bill here--") or any of the other Slashdot enemies of the week.

    We should be patting them on the back for reforming themselves, rather than pointing out their past failures every time they pop up in the news. We're not going to get anywhere with these companies if we push and push against them, but then keep pushing once they come over to our side.
    • reformed????? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:15PM (#3554701) Homepage
      Are they really reformed? Or did they find lacking interest and think we may be able to develop interest in it for them by writting some neat stuff for it.

      How do we know that they won't try to shut down someone doing something that they don't expect or like later?

      Fool me once, shame on you....Fool me twice, shame on me.

      • Re:reformed????? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by GlassHeart ( 579618 )
        Are they really reformed?

        That makes no difference. What you need to understand is that the corporate interest is in maximum profit, while the consumer interest is in having the best product most cheaply. These are not fundamentally incompatible, but are also not necessarily compatible. If there's something you want a corporation to do (clean up oil slick, open source code, etc), show them how it is in their interest to do so.

        How do we know that they won't try to shut down someone doing something that they don't expect or like later?

        By assuming they will. Specifically, this means you should go download a copy of whatever Sony publishes, and keep it around in case they change their minds and yank it from their website.

        Sony, or any other large corporation, is not a single entity. Managers and policies change all the time. Get used to it.

      • It shouldn't matter if they are "truly" reformed of if they are just trying to drum up interest. The bottom line is that they are doing something that I consider a good step.

        Yeah we don't know that they won't see something they don't like and attempt to shut it down and if they do then yeah I'd think they deserved all the scorn in the world; but for know I think they at least deserve the benefit of the doubt.
        • Re:reformed????? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by martyn s ( 444964 )
          But if we're not going to treat them like real people, and not hold them accountable, and admit that they are purely profit-driven, and are only doing they see this might improve their situation, then you shouldn't then be like "oh, we should give them the benefit of the doubt" or some crap like that. You give "the benefit of the doubt" to real people, real people who can be held accountable. But you seem to throw accountability out the window when you say stuff like they're profit driven, so "true" reformation is impossible. So, therefore, let's stop pretending that we're going to hurt their feelings or something, because, as you're contending, they're only profit-driven and if their move will dredge up some profit, they will go forward, otherwise they won't.

          Let's stop pretending that patting them on the back or ranking on them is actually going to make a difference. What do you think? That they come here and when they see our applause, they'll feel good inside and continue to do nice things? Like you said, they're profit driven corporations and our benefit of the doubt is not going to make a whit of a difference. Get with it.
          • Actually, our benefit of the doubt *can* sway them. Why do you think they're doing this? To make money. The aibo fan (?) community has asked for them to do this. They've shown an interest, and indicated that they would buy more aibos if they could do more with it. These things cost enough to be a niche item. If you are selling a niche item, you better listen to the customers, it's too easy to make them go away. So by giving a money driven corporation the benefit of the doubt, and buying their product, you're showing them that they did the "right thing". You think it's right for idealist reasons. They think it's right for monetary reasons. End result works for everyone.
            • Yeah, but we (the slashdot community) did post a story about it, and it their opening the specs will likely boost sales, thereby completing their objective. I'm only saying being cynical, and not instantly forgetting what they did, isn't going to discourage them, if the sales are good.
    • ...then I will consider them reformed. Not yet. It's a principle thing - I have no urge to listen to the new Celine Dion. ;)
    • It may be to early to tell what all the ramifications of this are, but you bring up a good point.

      There does seem to be a certain tendency to forget that things like this are often just education issues... that the company is temporarily without clue since they were new to this particular scene. Instead, it's treated more like a deal with the Devil... once you sell your soul, that's it, it's gone! That may be a function of the kind of "30-second hate" stuff that goes around thile the company is still wearing a black hat. Sometimes folks get so worked up that they forget what the purpose of the criticism was in the first place. Look at the way some folks continued to go on about KDE after the QT license was changed... that they were "tainted" by a history of nonfreeness, etc., etc.

      There's little incentive for companies to turn the black hat in for a white one if you are going to continue to boycott/villify them even after the switch.

    • The Celine Dion CD is from Sony. I was not aware of this and I stand corrected. If you have moderator points, please do me a favor and mod the stupid crap that I wrote above right down into obscurity.
  • Bit of a repeat... (Score:5, Informative)

    by WEFUNK ( 471506 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:08PM (#3554650) Homepage
    Good to see the fact that they are opening up their architecture reported in a mainstream story, but this is really a repeat of an earlier posting that had some really good links to the developer site [aibo.com] and some of the hacker sites [aibohack.com]:

    Teach An Old Aibo New Tricks [slashdot.org]

  • Aibo Virus (Score:5, Funny)

    by mr_gerbik ( 122036 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:12PM (#3554673)
    I'm going to write an Aibo virus that should prove quite profitable... here is a brief rundown of the algorithm for those interested.

    1) Direct Aibo to pick up its things (manuals, charger, etc)

    2) Walk Aibo from owners house to my house carrying its things.

    3) Take picture of itself and post a listing on ebay.

    4) Wait for auction ending and payment.

    5) Walk to new owners house.

    6) Repeat.

  • by inkfox ( 580440 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:12PM (#3554677) Homepage
    Originally, Sony had intended to make money on the additional software cards available for the Aibo. This simply hasn't happened. People have been buying one card with the Aibo and leaving it at that.

    If you're looking for Sony's motivation in opening the specifications, I believe it's here. In the absence of additional software sales, Sony sees opening the platform as a method for selling additional hardware.

    With the new approach, you can sure bet that Sony is going to put off the price drops that had been part of the plan for the second generation Aibos for some time. There's good money to be had in finding a new audience at the current pricing before Sony tries to earn new customers with a price break.

    • hardware companies have developed this strange notion that they're going to make money off of software add-ons. that age has passed. time for Sun, Philips, etc to realise that. the only company that will profit directly from software in the long-run will me monopolies.
    • "If you're looking for Sony's motivation in opening the specifications, I believe it's here. In the absence of additional software sales, Sony sees opening the platform as a method for selling additional hardware."

      If only the Computer hardware makers would see this exact same point as well... we'd see the last of Windows, well for a while at least.

  • Maybe we'll see AIBOs actually used for something useful. A snip here, bolt there and maybe you can turn your aibo into the ultimate chimney sweep. Anyone have useful ideas for an AIBO other than as a toy?
  • finally... (Score:4, Funny)

    by benfoldsfan ( 242486 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:14PM (#3554688)
    finally, now someone can program the aibo to play counter-strike with me and it can replace my 7 year old brother
    • by jred ( 111898 )
      Isn't CounterStrike pg13??? How dare you subject him to such violence. Let's throw some murderer out of jail to make room for you, immediately!!!
  • This from the same company that used the DMCA as reported here on slashdot last fall to shutdown one fan/hack site."

    I wouldn't critisize them for taking a turn for the better. On the other hand, how many chances should mega-corps get. :) So, screw 'em!
  • Sony makes so many really nice looking consumer
    devices -- it's a real shame that the company's
    official position is that the vaio is for windows
    only. It runs linux really well. But don't call
    Sony and tell them -- they will be annoyed.
    • I think this is true in a lot of industries. It seems like engineers inherently have this natural desire to learn more and more about anything that they can (ie "hack"). But it is the management, sales, and the b-school grads that are looking to maximize their investment.

      If the world was run by engineers, I'd think we'd be a lot more advanced than where we are now. Just as a single example, OIL! Science has proven that there are more efficient alternative energy that are out there than OIL. But the big oil companies don't want to see this happen.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:16PM (#3554702)
    The reason why I don't hack an Aibo is because I cannot afford one, not because I don't have the API specs. Reverse engineering hardware is not hard, if its cost is so low that one doesn't mind risking breaking it.
    • The reason why I don't hack an Aibo is because I cannot afford one, not because I don't have the API specs. Reverse engineering hardware is not hard, if its cost is so low that one doesn't mind risking breaking it.
      The opposite also applies. There are people like myself who don't mind spending some money on this kind of toys if the APIs are clearly outlined and the investment is not easily lost after some tweaking.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:16PM (#3554705) Homepage Journal
    "So, how are the sales of the Aibo?"

    "Lousy. People finally figured out that paying thousands of dollars for a toy dog that doesn't do very much is a losing proposition."

    "Hmm.. How can we create buzz and get people with too much money to buy it again?"

    "I KNOW! We'll open-source it!"

  • by kyoko21 ( 198413 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @07:21PM (#3554743)

    When a powerful company such as Sony feels that a grass root movement will cut into their profit, they automatically take legal actions against them. Yet in the same token, because they are all-so powerful, they can just turn the other cheek and for those who has suffered from the legal battles, now they are asked to come back and help them to raise interests in a product that they originally were discouraged from using?

    I think this could be described by the lyrics of Naughty by Nature: Everything gonna be alright:

    Drop that, and now you want me to rap and give?
    Say somethin' positive? Well positive isn't where I lived

    I say eat this Sony! I'd like to see some form of apology!!!

  • maybe they should lower the price on the damn thing so people can afford to work on it. its working for the PS2.
  • Hey, this makse me thenik...any chance we'll got a open sorce ABIO?!?!? THatd be sweeete
  • i think a robot doing the robot would be sah-weet.
  • Why is Slashdot wasting its time talking about a stoopid robot dog when honest companies like Google are releasing useful technology such as Google Voice Search [google.com]??
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder whether some ingenious hacker manages to make Aibo rival this [modernhumorist.com] real dog.
  • Aside from the obvious question of "is this for real?" It is good to see thing kind of development, even if it might be temporary. It makes aibo a good platform for smart teens to do some pretty advanced stuff.
  • I can just see it blue screening as it lifts its leg on you.
  • See this post [slashdot.org] i made to the last sony article.

    Anyone interested in an open, co-operative robotics platform please see that post instead.

  • by x-empt ( 127761 ) on Monday May 20, 2002 @09:53PM (#3555505) Homepage
    Sony, as a record company, is still using things like the DMCA to force destructive and damaging music cds into the consumer world. Sony is one of the biggest backers of "copy protection" schemes... the same ones that can be "anti-copy protected" by marking the outer track of the CD with a sharpie marker.

    Just because Sony is swinging one way in regards to their doggie, who's specs were already freely available through reverse engineering, doesn't mean you should sway your opinion of them and think that they are a changed company. Sony is a VERY dangerous company... Possibly fourth behind Microsoft, AOL-Timewarner, and the Bells.
  • This from the same company that used the DMCA as reported here on slashdot last fall to shutdown one fan/hack site

    Just like the same company that produced his car is guilty of ozone layer depletion? Not that I care, but it serves as a useful lesson in hypocrisy.
  • Like vendors revealing to public the secret keys to bring up secret characters in games in a hope to boost sales. What we'd see in Aibo's spec:

    Tip its left ears, clap left left right right up up up up down up down down down - THERE YOU GET A SUPER-AIBO WITH A STRANGE SYMBOL ON ITS BACK!!!!
  • I wonder why... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evilpaul13 ( 181626 )
    Now they can just accuse anyone who releases software for it that they don't approve of of violating the DMCA and not fulfilling the restrictive EULA they place on the specs. Call me a pessimist, but history seems to be screaming that in my ear.
  • You're in the third grade, and you go up to a big fifth grade kid and ask to play with him. He kicks the legs out from under you, then stamps on your head for a while. All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, he stops, says "Gee, I'm soooo sorrrrry," and offers you his hand.

    You'd take it, right? Right? Hmmm. Perhaps not.

  • Somehow I got the urge to check on the Aibo
    development kit just a few hours after they
    apparently set it up.


    Already 12 postings in their English BBS.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern