By Joyce Schwarz, author & Hollywood columnist, www.joycecom.com
MEET PLEO ....a superb example of 'organic robotics' revealed at Demo 2006 www.demo.com.
Modeled after a week old Camarsaurus dinosaur, Pleo's chief inventor was also co-inventor of FURBY -- you remember that little fluffy, talk-bot that took the world by storm in 1998 and toted up more than $50 million in sales not so many holidays ago.
PLEO VS REAL DINOSAUR
Surprising, when this blogger Joyce Schwarz looked up info on Camarsaurus dinosaurs on www.enchantedlearning.com (one of our favorite sites for this kind of research) we found that they say: "Camarasaurus was a sauropod, whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was the among the lowest of the dinosaurs". In fact, on the chart that Enchanted Learning shows the Camarsaurus is below the crocodile in his/her EQ.
But that's not the case with PLEO who according to creator Chung is the world's first autonomous life-form (note lifeform NOT TOY) who is capable of autonomous emotions that allow personal engagement. Is it a he/she? Bloggers keep calling Pleo "he" but I called up Julie Crabill, one of Pleo's PR flacks and she says there are no identifiable biological factors that determine if Pleo is a girl or a boy. AND there's no real reason for the name PLEO either. Julie mentioned that there is a dinosaur type with that name but actually when I looked it up it's spelled Pliosaur meaning near reptile.
PLEO FACTS AND TRIVIA: See him at www.ugobe.com According to their website, UGOBE's designers and engineers recreated Pleo's physiology from the fossils of the original. His height and weight are consistent with that of a one-week old infant camarasuarus. The site goes on to explain Pleo is an authentic Life Form. Treat him gently like any other living thing. Your Pleo will let you know how he feels at any moment. That's because he is capable of actual emotions including joy, aggression, sorrow, and fear. He can also yawn, sigh, sniff, sniffle, snore, cough, hiccup, and sneeze. Note UGOBE is pronounced "you go be" -- as in you can go and be what you want....hinting at what might come from this company in the future perhaps?
PLEO -- Sleeps and dreams....
When Pleo grows tired, lay him down and attach his 'dream cord' so he can sleep, dream, and gather energy for more exploration. BLOGGER NOTE -- hmm maybe they can sell dream cords for kids -- to encourage bed-time!!!
PLEO has its own REGENERATION BED so that it can sleep and dream...reminds this blogger of a little bit like a Borg rejuvenation chamber! Star Trek is calling Pleo!
PLEO IS DEMOgod and INNY WINNER
UGOBE was awarded the honor of DEMOgod and was also bestowed an INNY award at the DEMO 2006 conference this week in Phoenix. The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose honors the INNY Awards to DEMO innovations that will impact people's lives and reinforce The Tech's mission to inspire the innovator in everyone.
SO WHO AND WHAT IS UGOBE? MAYBE THE QUESTION TO ASK IS WHO IS UGOBE?
Who is UGOBE is fascinating. According to the press release, UGOBE's multidisciplinary team of robotics experts, animators, technologists, scientists, biologists and programmers are led by polymath toy inventor and Furby co-creator, Caleb Chung. Check out who's on the Board of Directors, it includes: Gordon Radley, former President of (what else) LucasFilms and Chauncey Shey, CEO/Softbank China Venture Capital and co-founder UTStarcom.
UGOBE'S ADVISORY BOARD: The Advisory board is equally as impressive-- it includes: Stephen Mayer, co-founder Atari Computer and Activision, Curtis Sasaki, VP Sun Microsystems and Phil Schlein, Partenr/US Venture Partners (USVP) and former president of Macy's California.
UGOBE -- NURSERY NOT A FACTORY.... according to Ugobe's press kit, they want us to think of the company's lab as a nursery for new life forms not a factory-- the firm is located in Emeryville and they say in their press materials that they are outside of San Francisco.
WHAT"S NEXT FOR PLEO? I saw somewhere that Pleo is going to do a debut at the San Francisco Zoo. Chances are the "life form" or at least his creators will show up at TOY FAIR opening next week. Pleo is set to retail at $199 about the same price as the Robosapien and other robotic wonders-- but I know Pleo is a LIFE FORM not a robot!!!
PALS FOR PLEO AT TOY FAIR? According to an Associated Press reports, lifelike robotic toys will be all the rage at the American International Toy Fair beginning Sunday in New York. The lineup includes a life-sized miniature pony that responds to touch, a Barbie doll that follows a child's dance moves and a robot made from a Lego building set that can be programmed.
Microchips have come down in price, so toy makers are able to make more advanced toys that are still affordable. At least 75 percent of the toys at this year's event will have some sort of microchip in them.
PLEO ON TV, BOOKS & MERCHANDISE? we saw no info on any licensing deals for Pleo --for TV, Books, movies etc-- but with board members and advisors from such firms as Sun, Macy's and Lucas Films -- Pleo may soon make his REEL debut not just his REAL premier.