JAPAN: SONY UNVEILS NEW ROBOT PET AIBO ERS-210 - THE ROBOT DOG Sony has unveiled it's new robot pet Aibo ERS-210 with hopes that the upgraded version of the mechanical pet, which now understands voice commands, will capture the hearts of not only Japanese, but people all over the world. It wiggles its ears, wags its tail and comes to you when called. Sony's new robot pet, Aibo ERS-210, is an upgraded version of it's mechanical dog. The second generation Aibo, which was modelled after a lion cub -- a deliberate attempt by Sony to shake off the dog image and make the Aibo a unique creature -- has a greater ability to express emotions such as anger or joy. The new Aibo comes in three colours, silver, black and champagne gold. It has more touch sensors and has been given greater freedom of movement. It can do more tricks and can even shake a leg. Helped by a more powerful internal computer, Aibo ERS-210 can recognise up to 50 simple words, either Japanese or English, and even imitate the intonation of human speech. "In terms of voice recognition, now, he or she can understand Japanese or English, about as many as 50 words, so you can talk and it can talk back. That is one big difference or advancement, second, it is more friendly or more compatible with PCs so it will hopefully attract PC buffs, so that they can even program their own Aibo motion or sound or audio, so they can make their Aibo a one and only one," Satoshi Amagai, president of Sony Entertainment Robot Company. The new Aibo comes with a bewildering array of accessories, including a carrying bag and an "Aibo fun pack" that enables owners to play games with it. An "Aibo Master Studio" software package, priced at 50,000 yen, lets owners program and edit original actions for Aibo on a personal computer, which can then be transmitted to the robot through wireless technology. A camera has also been fitted in its nose to snap those special moments and with it comes a cheaper price tag than the first model. Aibo ERS-210 will be available for order from November 16, 2000 at a price of 150,000 yen (1,400 U.S. dollars) in Japan, much cheaper than Japan's retail price of 250,000 yen for the first Aibo. It will sell for 1,500 U.S. dollars in the United States and 1,500 euros (1,300 U.S. dollars) in Europe. Despite the steep price, the first 3,000 Aibos sold out just 20 minutes after going on sale over the Internet to Japanese customers in June 1999. Sony had no sales forecast for the new robot, but said it sees this version as a serious profit earner rather than an experimental machine. It said it was ready to handle 60,000 orders a month for the new Aibo.