Sony has made a U-turn in allowing owners of its Aibo robotic dog to modify the software, and will now offer free kits so that owners can teach it new tricks.
The Aibo's behaviour was previously restricted to a pre-programmed set of instructions, with additional features offered through Sony Memory Sticks.
The company came down hard on hackers who reverse engineered Aibo's operating system and tweaked the dog's behaviour and personality.
In October last year, Sony invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to force the closure of a website that detailed how to modify and enhance the Aibo software.
In a legal threat sent to the webmaster of Aibohack.com, the electronics giant claimed that the contents of the site were "in violation of Sony's rights" by providing the "means to circumvent the copy protection protocol of Sony's Aibo Memory Stick to allow access to Sony Aibo-ware software ... by copying and decrypting Sony's software".
Aibohack.com was promptly closed down but is now up and running again since Sony decided to play ball with the Aibo developer and the hacker community.
The release of the Open-R development kit for Aibo is designed to "actively promote Open-R architecture for entertainment robots by highlighting its ability to modify the robots' functionality", said Sony.
This is essentially a go ahead to the Aibo hackers to make the dog dance disco or whine like Scooby Doo.
The kit will allow users to write new commands in the C++ language and is intended for non-commercial use only. Sony has even said it will set up a developer website where Aibo hackers can exchange custom programs.
Naturally the move has been welcomed by the Aibo development community as proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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