In 1999 Sony introduced Aibo, an "autonomous robot that acts in response to external stimulation and its own judgment . . . capable of interacting and coexisting with people as a new form of robotic entertainment." Aibo stands slightly over ten inches tall, weighs about four and a half pounds, has a camera in its snout, a pair of stereo microphones in its ears, and a small speaker in its mouth. It has a walking pace of about 6.5 yards per minute, a touch sensor on top of its head, and eyes that change color and flash. Its brain is a 100 MHz, 64–bit processor with a 16 MB memory. The first-edition Aibo, in MoMA's collection, actually lifts its leg to urinate, a feature that was later omitted to render the "pet" gender neutral and appealing to dog and cat lovers alike.
Offered to consumers as an "intelligent and trainable robot companion," Aibo represents MoMA's first foray into Japanese innovations intended to modify lifestyles. This field has long been of interest because of the potential effect its products may have on the world, but in the past it has been lacking in aesthetic criteria.