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Sony’s Dancing Music Player “Rolly”

Sony has just started a buzz-generating campaign for a product that appears to be the mutant spawn of a Walkman and an Aibo (Sony’s now-discontinued robot dog).

The palm-sized, pill-shaped Rolly is a portable music device that will “dance” to the tunes it’s playing by flapping little round “arms” on its ends, rolling to and fro, and flashing various colored lights.

The device measures 6.5cm (2.5″) in diameter, 10.4cm (4″) long, weighs in at about 300g (2/3 lb) and contains 1GB of flash memory, a battery, hardware to analyze the tunes so it can dance along with them, and the motors to make it go. Music-wise, there’s a speaker on each end under the moving wings, and it will play MP3, ATRAC, and AAC (!) files. Data is transferred to it via built-in Bluetooth wireless.

Interestingly, it has no display, but Sony claims the interface is intuitive with a minimum of buttons. When it’s on a table, volume is adjusted by rotating it around in a circle. Alternately, if you hold it in one hand, it will only use the top speaker; twisting the top ring will switch songs, while the bottom ring will adjust volume.

Sony is apparently aiming for some of the same hobbyist crowd as the Aibo—its dance moves can be left to the device, automatically generated by their software running on a PC, or the user can manually program dance moves. There will, of course, be an online place for owners to share their dance programs.

It’s scheduled to go on sale in Japan on the 29th of this month for around 40,000 yen (about US$350). How many people will be willing to pay that much for a lively little pill remains to be seen, but I don’t get the feeling it’ll be outselling any iPods this holiday season. Then again, the Japanese have been known to go wild over some pretty wacky products, so who knows.

Their initial promo video:

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