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Tag: smart

Sony working on reincarnating Aibo, this time as a smart home assistant

aiboAibo is coming back, and he hopes to take a bite out of Alexa.

Sony is reportedly re-forming the team behind its discontinued robot dog Aibo, and plans are for him to come back in a form that will compete with Alexa, the artificially intelligent household assistant produced by Amazon.

Aibo made a splash when he was introduced back in 1999, but after a few years consumer interested waned.

In large part that was because, aside from the novelty, he was less than cuddly and really couldn’t do much other than sit and bark.

Nikkei Asian Review reports that Sony is preparing to compete with Amazon, Google and Apple by producing a smart, speaking, more helpful version of the robot dog.

After a 12-year hiatus from robotics, the company announced last year it was turning its attention back to robots. Aibo’s return would be the first of several products brought to the market.

He will engage in all the dog-like behavior the old one did, but this time will be equipped with artificial intelligence, Internet connectivity, and he will speak the human language.

He’ll be able to control home appliances, play music and query the Internet at the command of his owner’s voice. Equipping him with AI will allow consumers to use him the same way they use any other digital assistant, all while being a little more personable, a little more like family, than just a futuristic looking speaker.

Whether the smarter, reincarnated version will be named Aibo isn’t certain yet, but the company says it is a possibility.

Seattle dog takes the bus to the dog park — by herself

Eclipse knows where she wants to go. And she knows how to get there.

So maybe the fact that the black Lab-mastiff mix regularly boards a Seattle city bus — by herself — to get to the dog park shouldn’t be that surprising.

But, damn.

The 2-year-old dog often jumps on the bus alone — most of the drivers know her by now — roams the aisles, greets her fellow commuters, finds a seat, and watches for the bus stop near the dog park, where she gets off, about four stops later.

“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater told KOMO as she rode the bus through downtown Monday. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”

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Local radio host Miles Montgomery is among though who were dazzled when they figured out what the dog was doing.

“It doesn’t really appear to have an owner. The dog gets off at the dog park. I just look out the window and I’m like, ‘did that just happen?'” Montgomery asked. “She was most concerned about seeing out the window, and I couldn’t figure out what that was. It was really just about seeing where her stop was.”

As it happens, Eclipse does have an owner, Jeff Young, who lives with her in an apartment near the bus stop at 3 Ave. W. and W. Mercer Street in Belltown.

They started off going to the park on the bus together. Then one day, when Young was finishing up a cigarette, the bus pulled up and Eclipse ran and jumped aboard without him.

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That has happened numerous times since — Eclipse being a somewhat impatient dog, and Young being a man who likes to finish the cigarettes he starts, apparently.

Apparently, too, the duo is not big on leashes.

“We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Young. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.”

“She’s been here the last two years, so she’s been urbanized, totally. She’s a bus-riding, sidewalk-walking dog,” he added. “Probably once a week I get a phone call. ‘Hi. I have your dog Eclipse here on 3rd and Bell,'” he recounted. “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.”

(Photos: KOMO)

Smarty pants … and drools … and sheds

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It’s official: We humans, according to the New York Times, have underestimated the intelligence of dogs (which, of course, was exactly their plan.)

“…(O)ver the last several years a growing body of evidence, culled from small scientific studies of dogs’ abilities to do things like detect cancer or seizures, solve complex problems … and learn language suggests that they may know more than we thought they did,” the article in Sunday’s “Week in Review” section noted. 

“Their apparent ability to tune in to the needs of psychiatric patients, turning on lights for trauma victims afraid of the dark, reminding their owners to take medication and interrupting behaviors like suicide attempts and self-mutilation, for example, has lately attracted the attention of researchers.”

While we humans still don’t understand exactly how they do it, dogs have proven they can detect not just our behavioral changes, not just pending seizures and diabetic attacks, but several types of cancer. (We, on the other hand, must rely on expensive doctors, intrusive tests and tight-fisted insurance companies to get our diseases diagnosed.)

In 2004, German researchers reported that a border collie named Rico could recognize  200 objects by name and remembered them all a month later. (I’m guessing that Rico’s vocabulary list was kept on one of those thingamajigs that have a clip to hold the papers in place.)

Dogs, with their incredible sensory powers, can recognize things in the distance. (We rely on the New York Times, sometimes mistakenly, to tell us what’s staring us in the face.) Dogs pretty much have us humans  pegged. (Most of us don’t begin to understand them.) At least now though, we’re trying a little harder.

“I believe that so much research has come out lately suggesting that we may have underestimated certain aspects of the mental ability of dogs that even the most hardened cynic has to think twice before rejecting the possibilities,” said Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and an author of several dog books.

Dr. Coren’s work on intelligence, along with other research suggesting that the canine brain processes information something like the way people do, has drawn criticism from those arguing that dogs are merely mimicking, or manipulating people into believing that they in fact grasped human concepts.

Clive D. L. Wynne, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Florida who specializes in canine cognition, argues that it is dogs’ deep sensitivity to the humans around them, their obedience under rigorous training, and their desire to please that can explain most of these capabilities, the Times article notes.

“I take the view that dogs have their own unique way of thinking,” Dr. Wynne said. “…We shouldn’t kid ourselves that dogs are viewing the world the way we do.”

Thank God, and dog, for that.