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Sony hints at final development stages of AI house robot

Fri 2 Sep 2016

Sony has announced that it is in the latter stages of developing new robotics technology, but that customers should expect to wait a little longer before an official release.

While Sony has been working on the project since April, and disclosed the news publicly in June, the company has since been relatively silent on the product.

CEO Kazuo Hirai confirmed the recent progress yesterday at a press conference at the IFA electronics event in Berlin. In the official update, he said that Sony was working hard to create an AI robot for use in the home, capable of not only assisting with daily tasks but also of building an emotional relationship with humans.

Hirai continued that the robot would draw on Sony’s expertise in video and audio, sensors, mechatronics, artificial intelligence (AI) and smart communications.

The CEO dismissed concerns over AI and robotic becoming a threat in the future, stating that risks from these technologies would entirely depend on the types of technology in use and where they were being applied.

Sony had previously ventured into home robots with its Aibo dogs launched in 1999, but closed its robotics unit years later after having only produced $40 million to $80 million in revenue (approx. £30 million – £60 million). A humanoid robot named Qrio was developed but never sold commercially.

Hirai also spoke on Sony’s latest release – the Xperia Ear. The new hands-free earpiece device is able to read phone notifications aloud. He suggested that this wireless technology was a sign of future opportunities for innovation beyond smartphones.

The smart Xperia range also includes a wearable device called Xperia Eye which, worn attached to clothing or around the neck, automatically captures everyday events using a 360-degree wide-angle camera lens. According to Sony, the camera is able to listen and respond to voice commands and detect faces.

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AI news robotics Sony
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