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With new APIs, Sony’s robot dog could be the smart home assistant you’ve always wanted

Sony says you can now use a web-based API to program its adorable Aibo robot dog to do new tricks — and you might even be able to make it your smart home’s best friend.

With its new “aibo Developer Program,” Sony is inviting developers to make “services and applications” that can work with Aibo. I didn’t really understand what that meant until I saw this incredible concept video of what might be possible with the new APIs. Aibo helped monitor a microwave, turn on a robot vacuum, remind a child that she had left the fridge open, and… act as surveillance camera for the child’s mom?

Who needs Alexa — a robot dog might be able to help you out around the house instead!

To create simpler tasks, there’s “aibo Visual Programming,” which lets you use Scratch’s drag-and-drop block coding to teach Aibo what to do. Here’s an example of Aibo picking up a tissue, which I guess could come in handy when you have a cold and don’t want to clean up after yourself:

Sony does note that you won’t be able to change Aibo’s “emotion, character or mood” through the API — all you can do is teach it new tricks. But Aibo seems pretty happy all the time anyway, so why would you want to change the mood of that very good doggo??

And if the first thing that came to your mind about coding new tricks for Aibo was, “I feel bad programming Aibo,” Sony addresses exactly that in an FAQ:

Q : I feel bad programming aibo.

A: When you execute the program, aibo has the freedom to decide which specific behavior to execute depending on his/her psychological state. The API respects aibo’s feeling so that you can enjoy programming while aibo stays true to himself/herself.

The development tools are part of the new Version 2.50 software update to Aibo, which also lets you feed Aibo through the “My Aibo” app, train your Aibo to “be quiet,” or potty train your Aibo… somehow.

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