San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley


AIBO Club 




Cliff Thompson, Mediameister,

San Francisco

Robotics Society of America


San Francisco Bay Area
and Silicon Valley
AIBO Club Proposal


An Opportunity to Develop the Flagship
Group of AIBO Owners and Developers
 May 30, 2001


San Francisco Bay Area and
Silicon Valley AIBO Club Proposal

An Opportunity to Develop the Flagship
Group of AIBO Owners and Developers


As American public interest in robotics and specifically, the Sony AIBO robot grows, San Francisco Robotics Association of San Francisco would like to propose and help to implement the following:


Formation of a Sony-sponsored club that would enable AIBO owners to meet, network and share information. The club would offer a number of resources to members such as news, talks, demos and workshops. The club would host regular AIBO events such as games, competitions and exhibits. Since the club would be open to all, it could serve as a channel for communication and feedback between AIBO consumers, Sony Entertainment Robot America (ERA) and Sony Style store.


Club Administration structure is served by either a formal group of elected Officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Events Manager). Another, less-formal approach is to delegate a "Team-AIBO" who would distribute the work involved in supporting the various offerings described herein and who would guide the meetings through a basic course of action. Participants in these activities make up the Club's "Team AIBO".  A main concern is to make for a rich Club offering but avoid making extra work for people, by breaking our tasks into "bite-size" manageable pieces & distributing the smaller tasks across a team.  One person working alone in spare time can only do so much.  A team of such people can increase the bandwidth by an order of magnitude


Club Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are created from the membership and consists of a number of small "teams" or "task forces" dedicated to pursuing and presenting material on specific topics or activities, such as performing specific software program/hardware exploration/demonstrations, getting guest speakers and doing special event handling, as described in the Agenda below. A main concern is to avoid making extra work for people, working smarter-not-harder, by discovering & leveraging already existing resources within our membership &, simply sharing/repeating work already done or in progress as a current on-going regular pursuit (example: if several folks are already exploring, are somewhat handy with & able to demo some aspect of "Party Mascot", then they represent a potential SIG).


Club Membership makes the meeting a dynamic, interactive experience by treating its attendance like a "high tech pot-luck".  Members are encouraged to "bring something to the party" by joining SIGs, Team-AIBO and anything else they care to share, be it a News Item or "Stupid Pet Trick", so that by active participation we both make a contribution to a robust presentation and take away a richer experience.


Club Funding to provide equipment and subsidize the costs of games, competitions, events and field trips is effected through both the club's own efforts to generate revenue streams as well as Sponsorship invitations to Sony and other corporations.




A meeting may present any combination of the following:

Mission Statement The Founder/President briefly states the club's aims and goals.

New Member Intros New guests briefly identify themselves, their background and reason for/interests in attending.

Club Business Items Any critical Administrative items that need to be addressed, but limited to a small number so members can get what they came for (speakers, demos...); more involved issues are handled off-line after the formal prersentations.

AIBO News items the Founder/President briefly presents any news items/developments gleaned from various sources (ClubAIBO, newsgroup/BBS, Sony Style Store); if Japanese translation can be provided, coverage can include reports from AIBO TOWN magazine.

Sony Style Store Report Sony Style staff performs "sales demos" of the latest AIBO gear (Ex: new AIBO model, Body Parts Kit, AIBOware, Accessories) and related technology (Ex: Glasstron for AIBO).

Special Presentations:  May consist of any of the following:

Guest Speaker Typically a speaker from Sony, Entertainment Robot America (ERA), ClubAIBO, or Sony- internal or 3rd party AIBO development source (Example: Takeshi Yazawa, Vice President, Sony ERA: "The Future of AIBO").

Special Demo Usually a Sony- internal or 3rd party AIBO development source (Example: "SDR-3X, A Best Friend's Man").

SIG Demonstrations May be presented sequentially or simultaneously at multiple locations/stations. May consist of any of the following:

·         Software Demo, Basic Typically one or more short Tutorials on basic software operation (Example: Hello AIBO, Fun Pack, Party Mascot).

·         Software Demo, Advanced: Generally a close look at advanced software operation  (Example: Master Studio Programming).

·         Hardware Demo, Basic/Advanced: Usually addresses operational issues  (Example: Wireless LAN setup).

·         Workshop(s): After a demo, SIG(s) may remain open/running to offer help with training, problem solving and/or technical problems.

Special Project Updates:  May consist of any of the following:

Special Events A progress/status report on the planning/execution of any current such event as listed below in the  Special Events section   (Example: ROBOCUP).

Resources / Funding  A progress/status report on Resource / Funding garnering activities currently underway as listed below in the  Resource / Funding sections   (Example: Sponsorship).

Special Projects A progress/status report on the planning/execution of any current such projects as listed below in the  Special Projects section   (Example: Training Media).

Special Task Problem Solver Posting (SIG) A list of particularly desired tasks to perform/problem solutions to be achieved is posted as a technical challenge to the group.  Members demo developed solutions, some of which may be become products to sell via the Club Store

Advanced/Future AIBO A section devoted to getting advanced AIBO resources into the club for Beta Testing, Evaluation, Exploration and Demonstration, such as the "Body Parts Kit" and especially the SDR-3X Humanoid.

Member Presentations Audience members present anything they have brought for "show and tell" (Ex: AIBO home movie video clips such as San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA) Mediameister Cliff Thompson film "AIBO "K-9" vs. Thunder Lizard!").

Developer and 3rd Party Forum (SIG)  There is considerable interest in developing 3rd party applications and products for AIBO, particularly in the area of performing useful tasks.  Developers discuss and present programming internals, environments, tools and product development. (Example: AIBO Hack Site).

Product Development (SIG)  Members may develop any number of products and even their own businesses for merchandising.  Ideally these products could be sold through a club website e-commerce store with partial proceeds going to the club treasury.  (Example: Custom Memory Stick Applications; SIG Workshop/Lecture Series Training Videos / DVDs / (e)Books,; Fashion Accessories  ("AIBOWear"; SDR-3X Shogun/Kimono Outfits).

General Q&A, Feedback and Member Brainstorming The meeting is thrown open for general Q&A to offer help with training, problem solving and/or technical problems.  Ideally, answers to questions might further be provided by an ERA/ClubAIBO-hosted Tech Support Newsgroup/Videoconference, running "live" during the meeting. Feedback is also solicited, regards "How are we doing, what's working/not?", as well as any creative brainstorming ideas (Example: Idea for "AIBO Exoskeleton", from Roger Hine,  Asyst Technologies Stanford alum : " might be possible to mount the Aibo body and head on a chassis with giant legs and a weapon and enter him in Battle Bots...")

Free-Form Networking The formal presentations end and attendees "mix-it-up", network, get together in small groups and attend any SIG workshops until the meeting ends.


Special Events  (SIG)

As a showcase for AIBO-related activities, the club would regularly sponsor unique activities such as the following:

AIBO Games  An annual "Olympics" consisting of various general competition events such as, potentially, Line Following, Maze Navigation, Obstacle Avoidance/Terrain Challenge, Stair Climbing, "Stupid Pet Tricks".

Dog Races Annual event, either (1) Greyhound style (2) Annual Iditarod Dog Sled Race, ideally with SDR-3X, (see

ROBOCUP The classic AI Soccer event using custom memory sticks.

AIBOFest An annual AIBO Fair focusing on Exhibitions/Demonstrations (Ex: AIBO 110/210 communications, Synchronized Dance Routines (Hack Site Disco Aibo), Master Studio Tricks), with Displays of 3rd party offerings (Ex: Fashion Accessories). May include "Dog Show", Talent Show" or "Beauty Contest".

Future AIBO As AIBO evolves into new Artificial Life forms, numerous possibilities emerge for...

Animal Events AIBO Circus or AIBO Jungle Exposition

Humanoids SDR-3X Events

·         Dance Competition

·         Karate Contest

·         Sports Events (Bowling), Olympics (Race, Gymnastics/Acrobatics, Shot-put/Disc Toss, Weight Lift, Trampoline) and

·         Art Shows (Painting Contest).

·         Voice Synthesis

·         Rock Band

·         Standup Comedian 

·         Theater Plays

·         TV Show Host/Announcer ("The 10 'O Clock Robot News").

Field Trips Local visits to other AIBO groups such as University AIBO development labs, other Clubs. International visits to Japan Expo's such as ROBODEX.





A number of these resources can involve co-development opportunities by teaming up with additional technological partners.

Mail List SF Sony Style Store record of AIBO purchases/owners provide an instant database and email list of some several hundred local potential club members. (Partner: Sony Style Store)

Website Possibly using ClubAIBO's resources, website provides an on-line community offering the following services. (Partner: ClubAIBO; ERA; Microsoft Store):

·         News and Events posting

·         Newsletter

·         Projects Descriptions

·         Information store and search

·         Member Database

·         File Exchange

·         "Usenet/News" style Discussion Group

·         Video Conferencing

e-Commerce store (SIG)  Member-developed products including Training Materials, Stick-ware, Apparel & Collectibles can be cataloged on the club website, with the actual transactions handled by linking to San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA) member CEO Roger Gilbertson's "The Robot Store" (see, as well as, for books, SFRSA member CEO Carlo Bertoccini's " (see .  A chief advantage to this approach is the ability to leverage the resources of these stores already existing large, global custormer base, website, mailing list, printed catalog, eCommerce engine & competently-staffed business organization.


Tech Support Newsgroup/Videoconference (SIG)  Either a "Usenet/News" style Discussion Group or "Consumer-grade" Video Conference (using Connectix QuickCam and Microsoft Netmeeting) run by ERA/ClubAIBO Tech Support staff, ideally "live" during the monthly meeting so that technical questions can get answered by Tech Support during the Q&A section of the meeting. This would allow the meeting to be web cast. (see and also (Partner: Microsoft Store, ClubAIBO, ERA) .


Webcasts Special Events such as Games and Meeting Special Presentations, when webcast, can attract the world's attention and generate considerable Media "buzz". (Partner: Microsoft Store) .


AIBO Library A collection of AIBO software (AIBOware) and hardware (Wireless LAN, Body Parts Kit) resources members can "check-out" on-site for self-paced training activities; may be stored at Metreon Club site if available or at AIBO Lab. .


AIBO Lab (SIG) For on-going projects that need "a place to hang your hat", such as "robot lab workbench-based projects", San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA) member Zach Radding is building a Robot Workshop, now under construction and slated for opening later this year in Berkeley, a portion of which would be available for such projects. A Sony-funded Stanford Univ. engineering students hosted AIBO group is another possibility (see & (Partner: SFRSA Zach's Cool Stuff)



Equipment would, ideally, be provided on loan for club use by Sony Style Store and would consist of any or all of the following:

Multimedia: A rolling "Video Cart" setup with the following:

·         Typical: Digital Camcorder, VCR/Mini-Disk Player, Television monitor (for capture/display of video).

·         Desirable: RGB Projector, Projection screen  (for projected display of computer screen).

Computer: A rolling "Computer Cart" setup with the following:

·         Typical: Laptop #1: AIBOware programs, Video Capture/Edit; Wireless LAN (for running AIBOware).

·         Host Software/Hardware Windows 2000 Adv. Server; Visual Studio, Back Office, Office; Internet connection, high speed, (wireless if possible); ISP account (for hosting Club website); 256MB RAM; 120GB Disk.

·         Desirable: Add Laptop #2: Videoconferencing and Web casting software and camera (for meeting videoconferencing, Q&A Tech Support and event web casting).

Special Hardware:

·         Consumer Digital Whiteboard Allows writing/drawing of ideas, does capture-to-disk with auto-OCR and supports shared whiteboard videoconferencing, (see 'Virtual Ink Mimeo", available at Microsoft Store,

·         Scan Converter Allows capture of computer screen operations to video, for web cast archive on-demand playback and training video applications,  (see "AITech" products, available at Microsoft Store

Robot A rolling "AIBO Cart" setup with the following:

·         Typical: AIBO #1: for general behavior/software demo.

·         AIBO Software AIBOware; any available software development tools; future software products as they appear.

·         AIBO Hardware Body Parts Kit; SDR-3X; future hardware products as appear,  (for demo, Beta Test, User Evaluation/feedback).

·         Desirable AIBO #2: for communications and synchronized operations.

Theater/Expo For large gatherings METREON stores often host events in Metreon Theaters and portions of Moscone Center.



In order to create "The Best AIBO Club", supplemental supportive funding by Sony would help guarantee success.  Funding requirements would typically include:

Robot Equipment:  Enables the club to get its own gear for AIBO Lab projects.

Computer/Internet Resources: Focuses on providing significant server space for club website files, especially video clips.

Events Sponsorship: (1) ROBOCUP, AIBO Games/Fair; (2) Field Trips (other Clubs, Expo's; Japan ROBODEX)

Special Projects

A primary aim of the club's Special Projects is to expand the scope and range of the club’s pursuits and offerings. These projects can as well generate opportunities to create revenue streams.

Club Media Productions

Newsletter/Magazine (SIG)  A web-based Multimedia newsletter offer columns covering the wide spectrum of AIBO developments in general and club activities in particular. The newsletter could include such favorites as news announcements, meeting notes, and demo descriptions. The web product offers the possibility of a subscription service and advertising. 

User Groups have spawned a number of great technical magazines, such as "Creative Computing" and "Video Toaster". A printed magazine version of the Newsletter, ideally supplanted by Japanese Translation services performed on included AIBO TOWN content, as financed by club funding sources, would be a valuable resource. Another possibility is that, since AIBO TOWN publisher Yoshiki Kuraki has already published some editions in side-by-side Japanese/English format and has stated that what's needed to continue this practice is additional funds, perhaps some of the club's funding sources could be encouraged to assist Yoshiki in resuming the bi-lingual version of the magazine.

Training Media (SIG)  Unique content such as talks, demos and tutorials are video recorded and edited onto VHS video and DVD, as well as Web-based webcast archive MPEG, to enable to club to provide a line of Training materials.  The web product offers the possibility of a subscription service. (Ex: Party Mascot Training; Master Studio Scripting Advanced Course)

Television Show/Webcast Video Conference (SIG)  Whole meetings or relevant portions thereof may be videocam recorded and broadcast live or as a webcast archive initially as a Video Conference session hosted by such off-the-shelf conferencing products as Microsoft NetMeeting &/or CUSeeMe. This would allow people around the world to participate in or, at least virtually attend, meetings.

Later broadcast of a regular series episode via a PBS or Digital/Satellite Cable channel may be offered, perhaps through partnership with existing facilities such as TechTV, on which San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA)

President David Calkins regularly appears in a "Robotics Corner" segment on their series "The Screen Savers" (see &  & (Ex: AIBO News, Interviews, Demos).

Club Store (SIG)  The eCommerce store offers revenue opportunities for club & individual member-developed products.  A proposed approach for it's creation is to have a store products webpage on the club website, that, when the customer decides to enter a transaction, branches to a specially set-up page on the Robot Store (, an SFRSA affiliate.  A chief advantage to this approach is the ability to leverage the resources of the Robot Store's already existing large, global custormer base, website, mailing list, printed catalog, eCommerce engine & competently-staffed warehouse.

Initial products for the store might include:

·         Stickware: 3rd-party AIBO software (Ex Club Meeting "Special Task Problem Solver Posting" solutions)

·         AIBOWear: 3rd-party AIBO hardware

·         Multimedia

·         Self-Paced Training Media: Training videos, CD-ROMs, DVD, (e)Books

·         Competition/Event videos

·         Collectibles:

·         AIBO fashion accessories (SDR-3X Shogun/Kimono Outfit);

·         Event souvenir take home items

·         Posters

·         Shirts

·         Cups

·         Mousepads

·         Diecast models

·         Earrings

AIBO Startup Any number of "High Tech," Startup's have emerged from Technical User Groups, the most famous being Apple Computer from the Homebrew Computer Club.  Following in the honorable Silicon Valley tradition, the SFBASVMAC  Founder, in conjunction with such SFBASVMAC  Special Resources as the Tech Support Newsgroup, AIBO Lab groups & Product Development & Developer & 3rd Party Forum SIGS, is interested  in exploring the possibilities of forming a classic Silicon Valley AIBO Startup, along the lines of Apple Computer & Yahoo.



Club Administration

Club Administration structure is served by either a formal group of elected Officers (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Events Manager). Another, less-formal approach is to delegate a "Team-AIBO" who would distribute the work involved in supporting the various offerings described herein and who would guide the meetings through a basic course of action.


President handles presentation concerns for Guest Speaker, Special Demo (Internal Sony/External 3rd Party), Developer/3rd Party/Product Dev.  Presents any Club Business Items & News Items (including liaison with presenter for Sony Style Report Check & AIBO Town Web/Mag Translation) & Future AIBO news. Special focus on Funding, Resources Procurement.

Vice President handles presentation coordination with representatives of  SIG, Problem Solver & Special Project groups & Member Presentation. Special Focus On Equipment Procurement.

Treasurer handles set-up of Club account for financial resources including sponsor funds & store sales.

Business Manger explore best organization/business model (non-profit, etc).

Librarian setup-up/maintains AIBOware & hardware resources.

Videographer records such resources guest speakers, special demos for webcast & training material applications.

Event Coordinator & Assistant Event Coordinator organize Games, Races, Festivals, Future, Field Trip.


Assistant Web Masters (Microsoft Technologies & 3rd Party Input Apps); help develop website components.


Assistant Web Master #1 (News/Events; Project Description; Information Storage/Search; Newsletter)

Assistant Web Master #2 (Mail List (Sony Style Store); Survey Form; Member Database)

Assistant Web Master #3 (Discussion Group; File Exchange ; Tech Support Chat/Video Conference/Webcast)




Names and Meeting Details

Club Name candidates are as follows:

·         San Francisco Bay Area & Silicon Valley AIBO Club (SFBASVMAC )

·          AIBO User Group Int'l (AUGI)

·         Downtown AIBO Walkers Group (DAWG)

·         AIBO User Group Int'l  & Downtown AIBO Walkers Group Int'l (AUGI DAWGI)

·         AUGI - Engineer Developers, mostly

·         DAWGI - "The Rest of Us"

(The SFBASVMAC consists of 2 complementary, cooperative groups: a user group and a developer group. The user group provides input and feedback to the developer group who in turn, inflict their creations on the users for evaluation, beta and acceptance testing)

Location and Frequency The proposed location for meeting is the San Francisco METREON Sony Style Store Soma Room on one of the following schedules:

·         Every 1st Tuesday evening of the month, 7-10pm

·         Every 2nd Saturday afternoon of the month 1-3pm, followed by open-ended workshop/lab for specific task learning/problem solving (Example: get LAN working) and/or Club Special Projects


Resource Providers

Formation of the proposed club will be facilitated by the willingness and ability of this document’s audience to come forward with resources. I have identified the potential key resource providers as follows:

·         Mariko “Maria” Nakabayashi and Dean Palompo of the Sony Style Store staff at the Sony Metreon, San Francisco

·         Kirsten Maynard, Senior Manager of Communications at the Sony Metreon, San Francisco

·         Stewart Wallock, Director of Marketing and Business Planning of Sony Entertainment Robot America

·         Takeshi Yazawa, Vice President and General Manager of Sony Entertainment Robot America