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AIBO? Ah...NO!

MONTHS ago, I got a postcard in the mail from Verisign, offering a copy of their brochure, “A Guide to Securing Your Web Site For Business”. I wasn’t all that interested in the guide; I almost threw away the postcard. Before I did so, I noticed another tidbit on the postcard…the first 125 people to respond to the offer got a free robot dog!

The instructions led me to this site; I entered the code they wanted, filled in my mailing address and clicked submit. This was, I repeat, MONTHS ago, if not almost a year ago.

Up until today, I had forgotten all about it. When I got back from lunch, I was greeted by a medium size box on my chair from Verisign. At first I considered that it may be a bomb…we had moved all of our SSL certs over to Thawte a few months ago. Maybe this was an attempt to scare us back into buying over-priced SSL certs.

I tentatively opened the box and found a copy of the guide AND MY FREE ROBOT DOG. He is a Biocybie Dog by Geospace. The blurb from the product catalog reads as follows:

Picture of the Biocybie Robot Dog“Say “HELLO” to BIOCYBIEDOG, the interactive robot dog from GEOSPACE®. He is animated and can see you, hear you and even feel your touch with his built-in interactive sensors! BIOCYBIEDOG will bark, pant, and whimper as well. He also moves forward, backward, and spins around. He performs over 15 commands and functions and interacts with other BIOCYBIEPETS. Includes infrared controller. Requires 9 AA batteries, not included. Ages 6 & Up. Case Pack: 12 Pieces. Package Dimensions: 15” × 7.75” × 8.75” Price: $35.00.”

While we were removing him from the package, we got a chance to admire the great workmanship that went into his design and production. One of the ears was loose, the battery covers were held in place with a twisting tab-like peg and his legs were completely hollow. Upon further inspection, we found two drive wheels on his underside, along with two free wheels hidden under his rear feet. The designers simply took a tank toy, replaced the tank shell with a plastic dog shell, added a motion sensor and shipped it.

Nonetheless, we were eager to get the dog powered up. We collected 9 AA batteries from the pager stash, slid them into him and powered him up. He sprang to life, barking and panting his way around the table. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a silly toy after all.

Oh, how wrong we were. The controls are so sensitive that it is impossible to make the dog move forward. (This would involve pushing both joystick controls forward, as if you were driving a tank!) Hit the button for him to bark, he’ll think about it. Hit the play button…or feed button and the robot dog will run around as if he was rabid. The only way for you to control him is through the infrared transmitter, which only seems to work after you’ve sent the command 3 or 4 times.

We went back to the website, in total disbelief that this dog would cost ANYONE $35 dollars. Upon re-reading the catalog entry, it became obvious…

“…Ages 6 & Up. Case Pack: 12 Pieces. Package Dimensions: 15” × 7.75” × 8.75” Price: $35.00.”

The $35 dollars is for 12 robot dogs! Of course! I can believe that this dog would sell for $3.

We’re currently debating what to do with this dog that cost more to ship to me than it did to produce. For a few moments, we thought we could turn him into a guard dog for the development office here at work…but upon testing the “guard dog” feature we found the motion sensor was really only a light sensor…and a poor one at that. You basically have to cover the hole in the plastic dog shell that the sensor is behind in order to get a response out of the guard dog.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 7, 2004 9:58 PM in Humor and Play and Work.

The previous post in this blog was Holiday Music Season Opener.

The next post in this blog is Direct from the Disappointment Department.

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