August 8, 2006

If Babies Were Robots, Bjorns Would Be As Light As This Aibo Carrier


When the Sony AIBO was announced, they sold the first 1,000 online. I reserved one--I think they were like two grand? four? whatever, it was some amount I did not want to float on my Amex for very long--and then as soon as I got my email notice that it shipped, I flipped that sucker on eBay to some gearhead in Hong Kong for $7,700 [that number, I remember].

The only problem was, there was a giant Aibo heist at the FedEx office in Queens--the guy who was supposedly delivering my robot had left on a sudden two-week vacation to Japan [everyone was flipping the Aibos in Asia, I guess]--and Sony totally dicked me around for a month of pseudo-investigation. Meanwhile, I owed this guy in HK a robot.

I was so angry, in one of my countless Aibo Helpline calls, I threatened to register and publicize my story. Within a couple of hours, I got a call from the president of Sony Robotics, apologizing, and personally guaranteeing my Aibo was on the way. Having heard as much from his minions already, I tried to register the domain, only to find it--and a whole bunch of variations--had just been snapped up by Sony. So I ended up registering, a pun that apparently hadn't occurred to non-native speakers, and I posted my tale of the theft and subsequent coverup. Within a week, the dog came--and went right back out, same day, same unopened box.

None of this has anything to do with the Swiss interaction design researchers who created a playroom and a whole slew of peripheral/accessory/toys for the Aibo, including a Bilibo-like turtle shell toy and the Bjorn-like carrier shown here. But I never really get a chance to tell that story.

AIBO's playroom [ via wmmna]

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