We have been using AIBO for a while now as a platform for demonstrating human interaction and speech/gesture recognition. Unfortunately our AIBO is getting a bit tired and will need to be replaced in the not so distant future. It looks like BP use a pretty neat and cheap (in comparison) robot called the SRV-1 Blackfin Robot which is on sale now for $475. This is so much cheaper than even a second hand AIBO and with the right plastic moulding (as BP have done) it could look just as attractive to the general public.
A huge bonus to the SRV-1 Blackfin is that it has been built from the ground up as a research robot and works with a number of different robot control software packages, including the Microsoft Robotic Studio. If we can use C# to control and program the robot our development time would be cut drastically as everything is already written for the “brain” side of the robot project.