July 22, 2004
Dr. Virginia Eaton, Director of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, is keeping a dog in her office. She says that Sparky is the perfect pet. He's fun to play with and he never has to be fed, watered, or cleaned up after. Sparky is a SONY AIBO robot dog. AIBO is a play on artificial intelligence (AI) and robot. In Sparky's home country, Japan, AIBO means partner or sidekick.
Sparky can be trained to do a variety of tricks. He plays with his toys, a ball and a bone. He can take pictures and send email through a wireless LAN. Dr. Eaton plans to use Sparky as a recruiter for the graduate school.
Dr. Eaton won Sparky at a conference. In June she and Dr. Greg Leader from ULM and Ray Watson from Ouachita Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) attended BIO 2004 in San Francisco. The purpose of the trip was to make pharmaceutical companies aware of what ULM and Ouachita Parish have to offer. Each year about 20,000 people representing companies from around the world attend the BIO conference. This was the second year that representatives of ULM and OEDC have attended the BIO conference in order to attract a pharmaceutical company to the area.