Ugobe, the Idaho-based consumer robotics company that brought the world Pleo, the adorable robotic dinosaur, is extinct. The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 17 and made plans to liquidate its assets.
Ugobe unveiled Pleo to great attention and acclaim almost three years ago, but delays and the lack of further development beyond the initial rollout of the robotic dinosaur may have hampered the business. In recent years, Ugobe changed leadership and moved from its California-based offices to Idaho. Pleo was always manufactured in Hong Kong.
Perhaps the most sophisticated consumer robot since Sony's AIBO robot dog (Sony stopped selling them in 2006), Pleo charmed reviewers and consumers when it finally arrived in stores in 2007. With cartoon looks, a puppy-like personality that developed over-time and a web site where you could download personality enhancements and interact with other Pleo owners, the Ugobe creation looked poised for success. At the time, Ugobe execs promised that Pleo would be just the first of many Life Forms. The product certainly had the pedigree for success: Furby creator Caleb Chung helped design it and was front and center during the product launch.
However unlike WowWee, which sells robot toys (that lack the ability to learn or change over time) for well under $200, Ugobe's Pleo listed for $349. That steep price and Pleo's painfully slow locomotion, lack of features like a camera, speaking voice (it could make sounds), and remote control may have hindered its adoption.
In the end, it's another promising consumer robot that failed to live up to and beyond expectations. With some companies pulling back on research and development, one has to wonder if we'll ever see another product like it.
We take a loving look back at the Pleo on Gearlog.
Source Citation:"Ugobe and Its Pleo Dinosaur Go Extinct." PC Magazine Online (April 21, 2009): NA. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 6 May 2009
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