Sony leans on AI to give technological advantage

Sony robotSony has announced its latest investment into Cogitai, taking the company’s interests into the world of artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has been claiming column inches in recent months, as numerous technology companies including Facebook and Google aim to gain traction in a potentially profitable marketplace. The company has subtle experience in the AI space, having incorporated a number of face and speech recognition capabilities into previous products, though the company has not specifically stated where Cogitai’s technology will fit into the mix. Financials of the agreement have not been released to date.

“We believe that AI will be incorporated into numerous products and will eventually become commonplace,” said Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories. Kitano’s division is responsible for future innovation in the business, where the team is current investigating the role of AI in enhanced the music experience for customers, as well as how the company can improve its own internal manufacturing processes.

“As this evolution happens, the most important thing to focus on is the benefit the technology brings to consumers. Because of this, the choice of domains, value propositions, and how one can align technologies to enable them to work together will be crucial. From this perspective the collaboration between Cogitai and Sony is a major milestone for the next wave of AI.”

The company’s first venture into the AI market focused around the launch of robotic dog AIBO in 1999 and humanoid robot QRIO in 2003. While these launches received a healthy amount of attention at the time, the last products were produced in 2006 due to the company’s need to concentrate on fighting back competition in its core consumer electronics business. Having restructured the consumer electronics business, the team could be using the integration of AI to provide technological advantage in the market segment.

Sony’s current AI activities are centred within the System R&D Group which is based in Sony Headquarters, and is also responsible for the development of augmented reality and other emerging technology areas. The team have implemented various AI capabilities in a number of current products including Xperia Agent, a voice activated robot which provides information in a similar manner to Siri and Project N, a wearable device, though the capabilities don’t appear to be as advanced as others in the market.