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VR Interfaces: The Pleo


Overview of The Pleo

Pleo is a robotic dinosaur produced by Ugobe incorporated, an American AI firm.

Every Pleo is unique, as each begins with a blank mind and the capability to learn. They are autonomous and will explore and interact with the world you provide for them, as soon as they are switched on. Switch them off, store them, and switch them on again - they will continue from the moment they left off. Once personality traits are embedded, they cannot be removed.

They resemble a baby Camarasaurus (late-Jurassic North American herbivore, 1:1 scale as a newborn) and have a full skeleton inside the plastic shell, with motors and actuators controlled by Pleo's brain. He'll basically behave like a small puppy, learning to walk, wanting food, play and nap time.

The robot has been independently tested (here) and findings have been exactly as predicted by the manufacturers - different 'upbringing' after the first activation, over approximately one day, does indeed create totally different personalities and behavour within otherwise identical Pleos.

From the manufacturer's own blurb:

Who will enjoy Pleo?

Everyone! Both males and females, regardless of age, are sure to fall in love with Pleo. Children will also adore Pleo. But because it is a highly sophisticated product that evolves into an inquisitive animal requiring attention and care, it is not suitable or intended for children under eight-years-old unless used under the supervision of their parents.

You help bring Pleo to life!

This is accomplished by making sure Pleo's battery is fully charged. Place the battery in the charger, attach the AC adaptor jack to the charger, and plug the AC adaptor into an electrical outlet. The battery should be charged for approximately four hours. When the indicator light turns green it means your Pleo is ready to enter the world.

Watch Pleo grow!

Watch Pleo progress from its birth stage to eventually become a juvenile dinosaur. Pleo's delivery lasts approximately five to ten minutes, based on his owner's interaction with the new dinosaur. Watch in amazement as Pleo opens his eyes for the first time and becomes aware of his new surroundings. The more attention you show Pleo, the faster he will develop and emerge as a more confident baby. Pleo's "hatching" is complete when he is fully awake and stands up on all four feet. After Pleo is born, he is in his "Hatchling" life stage for the remainder of his first charge cycle (about forty-five minutes). This is when his personality begins to develop and he'll ask to be fed, he'll start to walk and explore his environment, take short naps like a baby, and start to exhibit a wider range of emotions and feelings. Pleo must be charged fully a second time before beginning his next life stage - "Juvenile." The Juvenile stage represents Pleo's entry into childhood where his full range of movement and behaviors will be exhibited.

Why does Pleo not use a remote control?

Pleo doesn't need a remote control because he is completely autonomous. You can interact with Pleo but you cannot control his movements. He's his own dinosaur! As a result, Pleo makes different animal sounds, but - like his real-life ancestors - cannot speak. When he is quiet and moving Pleo can hear and will react to sounds of human voices. Pleo can also see thanks to sensors that allow him to detect objects and edges.

Thus, it is a toy, but it is also a toy approahing the beginnings of pet-hood, and already carries sizable amounts of the same responsibility you have for any pet in regards to treatment you give it, as the resulting mind will directly reflect that.

It is clear that within just a scant few years, abusing Pleo's descendants will become immoral, and possibly illegal, as the robots gain behaviour, personality traits, and reactions towards abuse that resemble dogs, cats, and other higher mammals.

Changing Behaviour

Unlike dogs or cats, Pleo comes with an SD card reader in his stomach. This is used for downloads offered by the company that temporarily displace Pleo's own personality, locking it up in memory unable to get out as a fully-grown, programmed one on the SD card takes its place, controlling the body.

Personalities available include:

Pleosaurus Rex!

Pleosaurus shows his wild side and does his best impersonation of Godzilla! Send your dino on a rampage crushing everything in the way and blowing fire at obstacles. See if you can figure out how to trigger a dramatic death sequence!

The Watchdog Game

Pleo's a playful baby dino. He counts to four while you get set - then the game is on! Will Watchdog Pleo see you before you tag his head or back, or can you sneak past him?

Love-struck Pleo

Has Pleo been bitten by the love bug?

He sulks when left alone, but pet him ... he wiggles, coos, and sighs happily. Cuddle Pleo and his heart beats with joy as he purrs and nuzzles. Pet him just so; he'll profess his love and blow kisses. Whistling when he sees something he likes, this baby dino is quite a flirt!

Holiday Pleo

Jingle Dino Rock! Get ready to sing along with a very festive Pleo. See if you can figure out how petting him might make him change his tune...

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