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Robotics Toys

The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Pleo 40

Posted by kdawson
from the and-a-dinosaur dept.
robotsrule writes "This article contains notes from a 1-hour phone call with Ugobe founder Derek Dotson, now CEO of Innvo Labs Corporation, the company that acquired the rights to Pleo at the recent bankruptcy auction. Dotson reveals the hidden story behind Pleo's rise, fall, and resurrection including intriguing facts about the money trail and what he feels caused Ugobe to fail, including how he had to save Pleo's future on more than one occasion. He also lays out in plain detail Innvo Labs's strategy to help owners of older Pleos and those whose units were swallowed up by Ugobe's bankruptcy." We've been following the Pleo saga for years.
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The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Pleo

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  • Re:What is a 'Pleo'? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @12:06AM (#29893139)

    Well there's always Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. =]

    The short of it is: it was an animatronic dinosaur briefly sold from 2007 to 2008, which disappeared fairly abruptly at the end of 2008, apparently due to some corporate shenanigans/infighting (which this article, and the previous ones kdawson links to, document some of).

    It's interesting from a tech perspective because it was the first widely available, consumer-priced animatronic pet (that I know of, anyway) that seemed to have some semblance of a personality other than "weird robot thing", so was basically the first at least sort-of-success in that area. It was also hackable.

  • Re:What is a 'Pleo'? (Score:3, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @12:08AM (#29893147) Journal

    It's a toy. [wikipedia.org] Quite a sophisticated one. It used cameras for its basic vision system, several sensors for detecting various things about its surroundings and it could sense a musical beat and dance to it.

  • Re:Cohabitation (Score:4, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @02:02AM (#29893629)

    If a sample [youtube.com] of videos [youtube.com] on YouTube is any indication, it looks like cats are initially curious, but lose interest pretty quickly, so I guess it doesn't pass the cat Turing test for "actual animal". Smelling like rubber and not reacting very quickly to stimuli probably doesn't help with that.

  • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @04:01AM (#29894169)
    While I appreciate the effort people went through to develop this thing, when I got a chance to interact with a Pleo I found it pretty much useless. It was slow and sluggish, and its behavior was light years away from usable or realistic or entertaining. It didn't behave in any engaging way, it didn't DO anything worth a darn. In direct comparison with a Cybie, which was way cheaper, the Cybie performed in more interesting ways yet was a less sophisticated device. I remember waving the Pleo's leaf toy in front of the Pleo, and the dino did not respond to the (simulated) food item. It was a prop and not good for anything at all. Pleo was dumber than a normal pet and was bland and offered no reason to interact with it past five minutes of experiments.
  • The owners like it (Score:2, Informative)

    by Paolo DF (849424) on Wednesday October 28, 2009 @04:58AM (#29894397)
    Well, you'd say, obviously!
    Disclaimer: I own a Pleo.
    I know that it's not engaging as it could be a cat, but it can be engaging as it could be -say- a turtle.
    Of course this is just an attempt at AI, with some life simulation; so there's nothing like neural-network-simulated-synapses-AI-supercomputer-MIT-experiment, you know.
    What's nice is that there have been a couple firmware upgrades, with actually different 'global' behaviours, and there are a few 'SD' behaviours that can change the way Pleo reacts to external activities.
    All in all, it is nice to have the thing moving around in the explore mode, and toy with it and make it purr or barf or stand on two legs :-)
    Ah, by the way, a link [pleoworld.com] may be nice

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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