Robodex, the world's first exhibition of human partner robots, opened in Tokyo last week.

The conference is the brainchild of Toshitada Doi, a vice president at Sony and head of the company's Digital Creatures Laboratory – which came up with Aibo, the robotic dog.

Doi is spearheading Sony's push into the world of robotics, which is a sector he believes could become a major entertainment market in the future.

While the cute Aibo, both the original and recently launched second-generation versions, won the hearts of visitors, it was two new humanoid robots that wowed many.

Robot football Sony's 50 centimetre-tall prototype SDR (Sony Dream Robot) was put through its paces. The robot can walk, and recognize both colour and voices. The latter two talents were demonstrated when the SDR was instructed by a Sony official to kick one of three coloured balls into a goal.

The second humanoid robot was the taller 120 centimetre Asimo from Honda. Part of an ongoing development program, the Asimo is much smaller and lighter than previous prototypes and can walk in a much more natural manner. This latter talent was the main theme of Honda's demonstration, which included having the Asimo walk down stairs.

A host of other robots, some more like toys, were also on display – including Tanaka's Aquaroid, a kind of robot jellyfish (illustrated) and Bandai's WonderBorg, a robotic bug.