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Ugobe, Maker of Pleo, Files For Bankruptcy

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the move-to-idaho-and-look-what-happens dept.

Robotics 79

AshboryBassPlayer writes "Ugobe has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy — i.e., not reorganization but liquidation. We first discussed the company's Pleo robotic dinosaur toy in 2006. According to the company, 100,000 Pleos were sold in 2008. CEO Caleb Chung is optimistic about the auction value of intellectual property that Ugobe holds. Pleo featured 14 servo joints, a camera, and an SD Card for storage. The final street prices were commonly between $275 and $350, much higher than an earlier hoped-for price point under $200."

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Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703519)

I have never seen the words "Pleo" or "Ugobe" until today. I would suggest that nobody else has either - which makes Chapter 7 inevitable.

That, and even if I HAD heard of either, even their hoped-for $200 is way too much for a toy, I'm sorry.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703587)

Please destroy your Geek card now. You are not worthy.

They are (were) really neat, really stupidly expensive toys targeted at the wrong demographic. Of course they were going to fail.

If they would have listened to me and put lasers in them ... who knows? World Dominance perhaps?

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703863)

Yup.... cuz not hearing about some obscure toy that didn't even last two years makes you unworthy of being a geek.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (-1, Troll)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703961)

Your UID is more than 99999 so why don't you destroy your geek card?

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27704177)

My UID is 0, so why don't you destroy your geek card?

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27705041)

No, ours is 666. :)

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27705299)

Yeah, so why don't you let me destroy that geek card for you. Muhahahaha!

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704119)

Neat? They were only a step or two more advanced than those "talking dolls" like barney and tickle me elmo.

They most certainly weren't worth the price.

They might have been about as advanced as those robotic vacuum cleaners (except some of those robot vacuum cleaners can at least charge themselves).

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27705075)

>They were only a step or two more advanced than those >"talking dolls" like barney and tickle me elmo.

My friend, you are insane. They are/were light years beyond any of that. These guys had a full behavioral and learning model, not a cyclic set of preprogrammed responses to button pushing. To say nothing of a 'bump/turn left/bump/turn left path finding algorithm and a low battery, follow an infra red beacon' pattern.

Yes, it was a first generation implementation, but it is the first and ( so far ) best platform from which to build emergent behavioral complexity.

Example - it is entirely possible to have added a behavior for him to seek his 'nest' ( charger ) - when 'tired' ( low battery ). It fits easily and completely within the learning model - he just didn't last long enough or have the budget behind him to reach that far. More, since it would likely be coded as a basic drive, it can easily interact with the other basic drives and stimuli - ie, the lower the battery, the more it 'wants' to go to the charger.

Add to that a sandbox tool with access to drives, behaviors, moods and animations and you have not only a cool toy, but a great educational tool as well.

As for expensive, he was pricey for a toy, but try pricing the servos and chips that ran him and then tell me how over priced he was for the capability... and unless they changed policies, you could bypass the sandbox and completely replace the ugobe firmware on the microcontrollers, and replace it with your own.

In short, read a little more about him. He was a tremendous technical accomplishment, and a heck of a pet to boot.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Funny)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705421)

If the pet dispersed a local concentration of nucleus bonded electrons on the synthetic fiber stranded floor covering, would he learn to make his physical presence approach zero?

Evidence? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27709513)

Any actual evidence that the pleo's AI is really as impressive as you imply? Is the pleo even able to build up a map of its surroundings? At least some robotic vacuum cleaners on the market do (they may not do a good job of it, but they appear to do that mapping ;) ).

Maintaining a model of a simple external world is a very basic level of "Intelligence". Predicting that simple world is the next level. Being able to model and predict other similar creatures (or even "self") shows a higher level of "Intelligence".

So far what it does looks like simple scripting. Maybe not even "Eliza level".

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704459)

Please destroy your Geek card now. You are not worthy.

That's a little harsh for a first-time offense.

I move that he must hand in his Geek card, but can apply for reinstatment at a later date provided that:

1. He has disassembled and reassembled a Cleo without referring to the documentation
2. He can recite the Wrath of Khan, the Princess Bride, and the Holy Grail from memory
3. He provides proof that he has lived in his mother's basement for at least 6 months prior to the date of the application.

Then we can vote on his reinstatement.

Seriously, though... What if he's a theoretical mathematics geek? Then he'd be like, 4 layers away from being required to know about this robot. Did you bother to think of that?!

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704685)

Seriously, though... What if he's a theoretical mathematics geek? Then he'd be like, 4 layers away from being required to know about this robot. Did you bother to think of that?!

That's true. I was a bit harsh. He might be able to faultlessly recite the entire dialog of every single Star Trek show. Hell, he might even understand String Theory (or pretend to at any rate).

Maybe he should just fold and spindle his card for now. Mutilate it later when he claims to never have watched "Serenity".

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704783)

No kidding. Pleo was amazing when it came out. I've got one and it is very cute and quite interesting to people. I'm glad they got to exist for a while. It's a pitty the economy killed them (not that it would have been easy otherwise).

I have my Pleo owner card in my wallet. #120000009280.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27707577)

A couple days ago these things were on Amazon [amazon.com] for $89.

Looks like they decided to jack the price up because of all the publicity.

It was on /. (4, Informative)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703617)

No, I remember reading about the Pleo robotic dinosaur, last year, I think. There was one review where the reviewers tortured it, [dvice.com] and a /. article. [slashdot.org]

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (3, Interesting)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703685)

IIRC, there were at least two demonstrations of it prior to it actually being sold. Both used the EXACT SAME scripted series of actions,and both were claimed to be unscripted reactions to the environment.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704649)

Do you have any idea how many chicks I've lured back to my mom's basement with the line, "Hey baby, wanna see my Pleo?" I assure you, $200 is a small price to pay for a bad-ass chick magnet like this robotic dinosaur!

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Funny)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705415)

Do you have any idea how many chicks I've lured back to my mom's basement

My guess.... zero. ;-)

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705809)

My guess.... zero

Well yes, that is correct. But that is just because a) I own my own house, and haven't lived in my mom's basement for over 30 years now, and b) my wife has voiced strong objections to my bringing other women home.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705559)

Probably about as many chicks as I've scored by telling them I have the first season of Battlestar Galactica on HD-DVD.

100000 Pleos Ugobe, yeah right... (0, Flamebait)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704819)

I agree. No one who has sold 100000 toys for about $300 each is, has, or will ever go broke. Either they are lying, self-delusional (their sales department sleezos have invented sales to get undeserved commissions), or they have stolen the money and defrauded their investors, or they are completely incompetent in business. Or they have been paying fat and happy robotics engineers $120/hour for years to design toys that can move pieces of colored silicone into cute funny faces. Probably a combination of all of the above.

    The idea that there would be an auction for intellectual property is absurd. Intellectual property is an oxymoron that only makes sense as a legal concept when it is kept as secret and as expensive as possible. No one would pay money at an auction for trade secrets that lose their financial value when the company that developed them goes bankrupt and their so-called intellectual property becomes non-secret during the process. If the company is based on so-called intellectual property that must remain trade secret to retain its value and the company goes bankrupt, then the company has no value and neither does its trade secrets.

    These morons should have simply made their toys a little smaller, used smaller motors and die-chip-sized processors and sold their toys for $30. Then they wouldn't be bankrupt. Bankruptcy is what always happens when marketing majors get drunk with dim-witted venture capitalists. Smart engineers are always looking to put teams of these bozos together and then be standing in the right place when it starts raining money.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27705723)

I'm still waiting for my Chumby, these things are going to rule....

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

epr (826666) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706057)

Funny thing is that I attended a presentation on robots today, at which this was one of the ones they talked (a little) about. And now they're being canceled. Must be cosmic irony at work, because I'd really want one.

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706185)

Pleo Ugobe? Didn't he take over the Congo?

Ugobe? (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706429)

Are you sure it isn't a new Linux distro?

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

Spleen (9387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27707261)

I believe there are many in this community that are willing to spend $200 on a toy. If I were to purchase a new video card for ~$200 to play games on my computer, I would consider that a toy. All the current generation gaming consoles are also in that range or above. Some may not consider them toys, but I do.. and so does dictionary.com [reference.com]

Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#27715813)

I have never seen the words "Pleo" or "Ugobe"

Dude who made the Furbie was aiming for another hit, they ran an article in Wired a few years ago. He also happens to live in Boise, Idaho. Which along with ailing Micron and HP centers constitutes the majority of Idaho's tech industry, lol.

Am I the only one? (3, Insightful)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703545)

It seems like every other day I see a newly released product introduced at a 20-30% premium above initially announced price. Soliciting interest by being optimistic about cost seems to be the norm, but I wonder if these projects would be more successful if they were honest about expected prices.

Re:Am I the only one? (4, Insightful)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703773)

I've seen how this unfolds in software, I don't know about toys, but it usually goes somethnig like:

10 Boss to Client: It will cost X and will make date Y!
20 Boss to IT managers: We need it by Y!
30 Developers work overtime
40 Boss to IT managers: Keep costs down, we need to have it meet X by Y
50 IT managers' head explodes from paradox overload
60 "Rush job" turns into Poo, UAT date slips
70 Spit and bailing twine fail in UAT
80 Deadline Y whooshes by..
90 PANIC MODE LOOP GOTO 10

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705309)

The real crime here is that they're still using line numbers.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704249)

I'm sure that they have to give an estimated price point when they look for investors and that without being optimistic they would probably have had a much harder time getting funding. The problem here is that they should have just kept their mouths shut about price when talking to the general public until they knew what it would, actually, cost.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704251)

The problems many startups make is they don't realize how much stuff really costs, and how pennies start to dig in the bottom line.
I could build myself a PC with $500 worth of parts where Dell or HP would sell it for $750 still at near break even prices. Employees, Benefits, Power, Building Costs, Shipping, Inventory management, Deprecated Parts in Inventory. It really adds up.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

drizek (1481461) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704599)

I think the problem is usually that they overestimate the amount of enthusiasm that there is for the product, and figure they can move the price up around the launch date. Maybe they aren't doing it to rip people off, it could just be that they figure cutting costs and streamlining their production isn't important since people will pay whatever they charge. Asus charging $400 for the eee when they initially announced it at $200 though I think is just plain them ripping people off after building up a huge amount of hype. People who waited could get much better netbooks than the original eee in the promised $200-$300 price range once there was some competition around. Asus missed the boat I think, now that they have been surpassed by acer in netbook sales. Dell and HP are probably not far behind either, if at all.

Re:Am I the only one? (1)

Mike McTernan (260224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27707455)

They probably worked out the costs if they sold >1M. They sold 100k, so never reached those economies of scale.

That's a shame, but at least they were thinking big. If they started out planning to sell 100k, they wouldn't have bothered.

I wish them luck in what they do next. Pleo is still unique.

Those dinosaurs just can't get a break... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27703561)

It's the second time they're going extinct!

Re:Those dinosaurs just can't get a break... (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704671)

Yeah, but the first time, it was their own fault. [ias.ac.in]

Re:Those dinosaurs just can't get a break... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705009)

That's already happened. Consider the poor brontosaur. Once, it held its head high as the largest land animal ever. Then, because it was found to be the same as the already existing apatosaur, the brontosaurus ceased to be. Also, at some point an bronto/apato head was mounted on a brachiosarus, tallest of the dinosaurs, confusing the name still more. Now they've found supersaurs, titanosaurs, ultrasaurs and who knows what else, so the claim as the largest is gone. The brontosaur is extinct biologically, taxonomically, and from the record books.

Crap (4, Insightful)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703583)

I'm not saying its not a cool idea, but really, all a kid wants is a dinosaur he can pick up, and then smash against other dinosaurs. Sometimes its possible to be too complex, and too expensive for parents.

Re:Crap (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704111)

I don't think this was meant for kids. They marketed this at conferences like GDC and CES, which target geeks. Probably the geeks would buy them, claiming it was for the kids. :-)

re: not meant for kids? (2, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704375)

That might be, but if so, it was a terrible business plan and as an earlier poster said, Chapter 7 was inevitable.

I actually do remember the release of the Pleo and saw a couple in stores. Everyone looked at it for about 10 seconds, saw the price tag and said "Ouch!", walking away quickly.

Especially in THIS economy, people can't justify hundreds of dollars spent on a gimmicky toy, which is what Pleo amounts to. I'm as big a geek as anybody, but I still look for products that actually do something cool I think I'll use. For example, I just saw a sale today on 1TB SATA drives for about $78 each. I could buy 3 for a RAID 5 array in a computer and still have spent less than a Pleo. I know I can do a lot with the drive space....

I totally agree with the person who said a full-fledged "Hero 1" type robot would be a better product. Make it versatile enough, and schools will pay the higher price to have one in a learning lab, etc.

Re:Crap (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27709157)

>I don't think this was meant for kids.

Then why was it for sale at toys r us? I think the problem is that kids really dont want an jerky and delicate electric toy when imagination works much better. Adults dont like locked down non-programmable robots. I think the people at Woowee and Ugobe still dont realize how unnatural these things are. Their loud servos and jerky motions really says "dont buy me." Especially at $349 clams.

I was thinking of getting the robopanda for my neice, but its just a terrible robot. Id rather see a lower tech toy without the loud servos, preferably covered in fur and not in a plastic shell. At least the Wowee people have reasonable pricing.

Re:Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27704199)

...all a kid wants is a dinosaur he can pick up, and then smash against other dinosaurs.

I think I see where you are going with this... If the toy dinosaur was made from smaller self-assembling robots each containing their own microprocessors, LiPo battery pack, micro LCD screen, 2Mpixel camera, SD/MMC reader, a network stack supporting at least 802.11n, Zigbee, Bluetooth and 3G, and an FPGA for dedicated processing of tasks such as DSP for voice and face recognition, all in a tidy carbon fiber enclosure, the child's fun output would be maximized as shown by the graph I just drew.

And I see no reason why it can't be done for $200. Genius!

Thank you Slashdotter, We shall hold an emergency meeting with our investors immediately.

Sincerely, Ugobe

Re:Crap (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706065)

    You'd be better off selling microscopic sized robots that can use materials found in the environment around them to build working replicas of themselves, and organize into larger autonomous creations.

    Your $200 is too much. One of mine can build armies! And I'll sell it for just $150. :)

   

Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27704323)

I'm not saying its not a cool idea, but really, all a kid wants is a dinosaur he can pick up, and then smash against other dinosaurs.

"Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!"

Who cares? (-1, Flamebait)

avalys (221114) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703603)

Why is this getting so much press? The maker of an expensive, cheesy robot dinosaur toy files for bankruptcy. What a shocker. This should be a 1-paragraph blurb tucked in some back corner of the Wall Street Journal, but instead I've been seeing it on every website I check for nearly a week.

On another note - who in their right mind would pay $300 for this thing? Who in their right mind would think someone would pay $300 for this thing?

You had to know that adopting a dinosaur... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27703621)

...would end in extinction.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27703739)

Simpalrix, makers of Ugnug, filed for Chapter 7.4R bankrupcy.

Well crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27703749)

I wanted to pick one up in a month to hack, but now looks like I will need to go second-hand. With the number of motors I would prefer new - and this will probobably drive the price up. Same timing with the Sony ibo (sp?)...ugh.

I just figured out whyit failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27703843)

"The product should ship by the end of January 2008 with a suggested retail price of 349,00 USD."

$34,900 is a bit much for a kids toy, dontcha think?

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704371)

349,00 USD is $349.00.

Outside of the US, the comma separates the number and the precision.

While of European parents, I never understood this. The decimal is more important the comma and the placement of the decimal point is more important than making a number readable. So, for me, 1,000,000.00 makes more sense than 1.000.000,00.

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704737)

Outside of the US, the comma separates the number and the precision.

While of European parents, I never understood this.

It makes sense if you think of a comma = "and", and numbers being presented as an integer part "and" a fractional part.

Particularly when (as is, I believe, most common) spaces (normal or thin) are used instead of full stops as separators for every three digit group in the whole number portion.

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27708371)

Nope, still doesn't make sense to me. Thanks for trying, though.

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27718733)

Nope, no cigar. A period is more significant than a comma in writing and it should carry the same weight with numbers. The decimal point is the most important part of the number and as such should be the period.

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704785)

I don't think it matters either way. What bothers me is that 'merkins can't fathom the notion that other countries might have different conventions for numbers, dates, or even people's names. Hence their insistence on changing my wife's birthday from April 7 to July 4 when she came to the states, 'cause they couldn't understand that the 7/4/1971 on her passport was not in month/day/year format. Gee, you'd think at least immigration officials would have seen a few foreign documents before, wouldn't you?

Anyway, why not just call it $349 USD and avoid the issue entirely?

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706125)

    When writing in a local currency, language, etc, it is polite to translate everything to local style. That does include dates, and numbers. :) If they're going to mention something in US Dollars, it should be noted accordingly.

    I learned to always include a text month in dates, because when dealing with an international crowd, the first 12 days of each month tend to get confusing. :)

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706273)

Psht, I'm having to fill out forms for a K-1 Visa for my fiance (basically allowing her to enter the country to marry), and most of the forms assume (through field spacing, formatting, and labels) that her address and telephone number are US-style. These are forms that are, explicitly, for foreigners living in foreign countries. So yeah, I can sympathize.

Of course, there was also the I-134 form which didn't seem to realize that I could be born off of foreign soil, be a US citizen through my parents, and still not have a citizenship certificate number (I had a FS-230 and a DS-1350, none of which have a serial number).

Basically, I'd like to find the people that design these forms and beat them with a sack of potatoes.

Re:I just figured out whyit failed (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27731777)

The worst is yet to come. Being fingerprinted by incompetents, and the "interview" in which you have to prove you actually cohabitate and that your marriage has been consumated to somebody that assumes from the onset that you are lying. Questions like "Where is the trash can in your bathroom located?" One of my friends claims she was asked point blank: "Did you pay this man to marry you?". We didn't have any problems with proving we weren't in a sham marriages at the interview, but that is only because I walked in and said "Hi, I'm so-and-so, this is my wife, and this is my daughter. Here is my daughter's birth certificate, listing both of us as the parents. Any questions?"

Better links please (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703867)

Pleo [wikipedia.org] . I just hate links that look like they're about a particular subject that keep you going in a circle.

What the world needs... (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703877)

What the world needs right now is another Heathkit Hero style DIY robot kit, not a $200 "one trick pony" toy.

Sorry about being off topic . . (1)

guzzirider (551141) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706983)

I truly miss Heathkit, The mir mention of it causes me melancholy and heartache.

IO-14, I built one during the summer beetween 9th and 10th grade.

WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703921)

That was expected; it was predicted in Robotics Business Review last month. The price point was far too high.

WowWee's RoboReptile [wowwee.com] is almost as advanced, and has a price point around $90.

WowWee is a company to watch. They have a broad line of reasonably good robotic toys at modest price points. They even sell a fembot. [wowwee.com]

Re:WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27704631)

Not to mention that one of their robosapiens is geared directly towards those who like to modify toys (and like their toys to run linux [wikipedia.org] )

Re:WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704641)

So, what made Pleo so expensive? The WowWee thing looks not quite but almost as sophisticated...

Re:WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27705511)

No, the wowee bot is nowhere near as cool as Pleo ( nor as advanced for those who want to make a distinction ).

Pleo was probably doomed because they did a very bad job of communicating that to the public at large.

Pleo came with a usb port for field firmware upgrades from the factory, he also came with a free downloadable sandbox and a fully documented, newbie accessible scripting language that provided access to all of his drives and behaviors. You could create new ones, or modify existing ones, write them to an SD card, put it in, and see what happened. They could be based on any combination of feedback coming from any of the impressive array of sensors

He was controlled by 14 servos and two microprocessors. He had binaural hearing with the ability to determine sound direction, an IR camera, and 4 capacitive touch sensors that meant he could tell where you were touching him, and how ( eg petting, or hitting ).

He had weight sensors in his feet, and a closed loop control system on his clutched servos that meant he could tell when he was carrying weight, and how it was distributed. He could also tell when one of his joints had been forced, and it would trip his 'hurt' drive, and he would cry, and limp for several minutes, to several hours depending on how nice you were to him.

He had an orientation sensor that meant he could tell if he was upside down, or resting on your shoulder, or lying on his back, and his responses would vary based on his 'mood' and orientation.

He could also detect and identify other pleos and interact with them as well.

Not only that, you could go outside his programming and access the servos, sensors and microcontrollers directly if you had the desire

Nothing in the market today comes anywhere close. Certainly not robosapien or ANYTHING from wowee. They are not capable of anything like the complex behaviors, or interactions that pleo was. The only reason that he shipped with such a relatively small array of behaviors and drives was because the company ended up rushing him to launch, and wasn't able to push out updates and upgrades as fast as they needed to.

The 'hacker friendly' stuff in the Robosapien is far less capable than the built in scriptability provided with Pleo. They gave you the ability to work within their control routines, and if that wasnt 'hacker friendly' enough for you, you could wipe their software completely and access the micro controllers directly without having to bypass security measures.

Pleo was an incredible teaching tool and technical accomplishment that was disguised/mis-marketed as a toy. That so many people here think otherwise is a testament to how well ugobe did at setting up a 'life form'.

It's a shame they didn't make it, as anyone who does acquire the rights to the software probably wont get it either, and will turn it into something pointless like the other toys people here keep comparing him to, and something that could have been a wonderful toy and a wonderful teaching tool, and was just plain wonderful will be lost forever.

We'll miss you Pleo!

Re:WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705763)

It's not the same.

I've got a Pleo, and I love the little thing. There are many things that go into why I like it so much.

First, it's cute. I don't think that can be overstated. While WowWee has made some neat stuff (like the first RoboSpaian), they go for the high-tech-futuristic look. Pleo was designed to be about the size of a real juvenile dinosaur. He looks cute and inviting. The skin was designed to simulate the correct texture (or at least as best we can guess).

Second is interaction with Pleo. While he is limited once an adult, their "hatching" sequence is a ton of fun and really helps make the toy. First Pleo does next to nothing, then it complains and tries to move around. It slowly gets better and better at walking and other actions until it's an "adult". This makes it feel much more alive than a "turn it on and it's ready to kill" type robot. He doesn't just stop moving to save battery, he goes to sleep and acts the part. When you make a loud noise or touch him, he slowly wakes up again.

I can't see enough to tell from their site, but I really wonder if the RoboReptile has as many joints as a Pleo.

They aim at different markets. One's a killer robot toy, the other is a "living" baby dinosaur toy. Pleo was awesome, but it was never going to succeed. It was sort of sold as a geek toy to help subsidize the development of LifeOS to put in other toys until they came up with something cheaper. I don't think they could have succeeded except during an economic boom. I'm not surprised they didn't last, but I'm glad I have my amazing little Pleo.

Re:WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (1)

pisymbol (310882) | more than 5 years ago | (#27707327)

I totally agree, I have one and even signed up for the developer kit. It was an interesting architecture to say the least, they had a LifeOS platform that run a C-like scripting language under a VM called Pawn. The architects I believe stated that Pawn provided a very fast execution environment but made *programming* simple enough for hobbyist and even non-geek types.

My issues were mainly they didn't release anything after the Pleo itself. I mean they were some holiday behavioral editions but that's about it. I really wanted them to release a PDK so I could come up with my own behaviors to really make my Pleo my own. I think its a fantastic idea, albeit with most fantastic ideas, the barrier to entry is typically high.

One thing though, they should open source LifeOS and/or the PDK if they can't sell it. I think a community run RTOS focused on behavioral modeling and extending the model via a simple expressive language and user generated content is fantastic. I even suggested to them in a long survey I filled out as an owner of the first adopter that they should allow folks to exchange behaviors via the web and create a virtual Facebook for rotobotic toys and their owners.

Its a winner and way ahead of its time...but yet again the business model around it needed to be ironed out.

Re:WowWee Toys has a cheaper version. (1)

tuxicle (996538) | more than 5 years ago | (#27713895)

They even sell a fembot. [wowwee.com]

But will it survive in a manbot's manputer's world?

Kid tested? (4, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27703995)

It's obvious that they never did any "kid testing" on their toy. If you give a kid a dinosour toy, he will do the obvious kid thing: Pick it up by the tail and repeatably bash it against his toy truck.

$275 is too much to spend on a hammer, unless it's for government use.

Re:Kid tested? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705793)

They never aimed the product at your average 8 year old. It really seemed like a toy of "older" boys (24+) who have money. I don't think it was ever aimed at children. They wanted to do that later, but they knew their initial product couldn't work in that market for a ton of reasons (price being the main one).

Terrible Summary (1, Troll)

David Nabbit (924807) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704477)

I know this is Slashdot, but at least try to write a decent summary. I had to read the article just to be able to tell what the summary was trying to say.

I had a Femisapien... (1, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704483)

I tried the Femisapien's autonomous mode. It took my wallet, bought all kinds of batteries that it can't even use, then came home and told me that "we" need to buy a bigger house.

I took it back to the store and exchanged it for the Robosapien.

Re:I had a Femisapien... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704925)

Yes, I though mine was defective until I found out that they're actually programmed that way. I'm waiting for an open source alternative so I can adjust the code to modify troublesome behaviors.

Flamebait?! (1, Flamebait)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705689)

Did I mention that it always wanted to talk about our Relationship?

Move to Idaho? (3, Informative)

CR0WTR0B0T (944711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27704787)

Ugobe was a bad business plan. It has nothing to do with Idaho, which is a business friendly place [cnbc.com] . If anything, company employees would benefit from moving to Boise/Eagle from San Jose to enjoy lower commute times [payscale.com] compared to San Jose commute times [payscale.com] , a lower cost of living [bestplaces.net] , lower crime rates [bestplaces.net] , and ready access to outdoor recreation such as skiing [bogusbasin.org] .

It's not perfect, but I live here and love it. I'm not part of the CVB, but I welcome any well-run business fed up with their home state to take a look at Boise. It's a great place to live.

Pleo not hackerfriendly (1)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27705739)

There is a nice TED talk about Pleo [ted.com] . Unfortunately the thing comes with proprietary software and you can only customise it using motion profiles and sounds. I am not sure how much this has affected sales, but you can get much more hacker friendly robots from Robosavvy.com [robosavvy.com] . I am still waiting for a walking robot with onboard ARM processor and Linux, actuators with hackable controllers, sensors (resolvers, accelerometer, maybe gyroscope, contact sensors). It doesn't even need to be able to pick up objects. There are several robots listed on Linuxdevices.com [linuxdevices.com] (even Pleo although I think Pleo OS is not based on Linux) but they are either not that powerful yet or they are somewhat expensive.
But it is certainly not easy to get your act together and do a proper design including mechanics, electronics, and software.

Formula for Success (1)

DavidChristopher (633902) | more than 5 years ago | (#27706115)

1) Create Robotic Dinosaur
2) Go extinct.
3) ???
4) Profit!

frosT pisT?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27708445)

may well remain 4osts 0n Usenet are
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