As devoted owners of the Sony Aibo face the mortality of their precocious robo-pups, the rest of the world realizes how close a mechanical companion and their human caretakers can really be. Aibo isn’t the only case of digital attachment: everything from the Tamagotchi to, a certain extent, the AI we interact with every day in the form of Siri and other virtual assistants all kindle this unlikely connection.
WowWee, an established company that specializes in creating intelligent robots, is looking to assuage fears of post-Aibo loneliness with its CHiP robot dog. Instantly, the charming four-wheeled, dual stereo-ed computerized canine barks, whimpers, and growls its way to the heart by showing affection to whoever is sporting the included smart band. With it, the user can have CHiP follow him/her around, control it directly or issue it a ‘sic ’em’ command. Crucially, the band contains a like button to reinforce behaviors and change its personality over time.
The band isn’t the only way to interact with CHiP, with voice commands also available. With voice controls, users can command CHiP to do tricks, over time learning more and more depending on how close the two become. With its five built-in infrared sensors, CHiP won’t hit anything or anyone while executing them or running around to chase the included SmartBall. Of course, CHiP will need charging but its auto-return feature makes it so that it always returns to its base for more energy. Right now, CHiP is going for $179 and is expected to ship in July 2016. WowWee is looking for $100,000 by February 6th, 2016.
CHiP is sure to be welcomed warmly. Although Aibo owners may not be completely open to what could be seen as a cash-in, the kind of earnestness CHiP gets across makes it worthy of being its spiritual successor.