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Aibo so cute it may now conquer world

Sony's cuteness overload with new Aibo robot pets

Sony has unveiled new versions of its pet Aibo robot today, two cute cuddly dogs named Latte and Macaron.

In the 11 months since the company launched its previous model, Aibo has been given a facelift, improved speech-recognition capabilities and a lower price tag.

The new Aibo, Sony's third and arguably cutest model yet, comes in two versions: the ivory-coloured ERS-311, named Latte, and the grey-coloured ERS-312, called Macaron. Modelled partly on a bear cub and partly on a puppy, each has its own personality. Latte is programmed to be adorable and Macaron to be mischievous, said Sony spokeswoman Aki Shimazu.

Aibo's 64bit processor also operates the touch-sensitive areas on the robot's head and feet, while the speech-recognition function has been extended to 70 words (from 50 in the previous model). Aibo now has the ability to learn its own name and that of its owner, just like a real dog.

These pups can even let you know how they are feeling via colour sensors mounted on their heads. If the sensor turns pink your pup's very happy.

Aibo robots will go on sale for around £570 (compared with the original version which cost about £1,400) and will be available in Europe by the end of the year - just in time for Christmas. Latte and Macaron are also around 30 percent cheaper than the second model, launched last year.

The new models may still be too pricey for all but the wealthiest teens, but Sony is going for a different audience. "They are aimed at women in their 20s and 30s," said Shimazu. "We wanted to widen the market segment."

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