Among today’s leading tech companies, Sony has its feet well set on the field of AI and robotics. Since May 2016 till now, Sony has come up with a total of 8 initiatives in the concerned field and looks to spread its wings more.
It all started with the company’s investment in Cogitai, an American AI startup, in May last year. The collaboration aims at developing novel AI technologies via prediction technology and deep reinforcement learning.
The next month saw Sony revealing at its Corporate Strategy Meeting, that the ambition is to – “combine its existing strengths in areas such as video and audio technologies, sensors and mechatronics, with artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, communications and other elements to offer new proposals that would expand the field of electronics.”
In July 2016, Sony came up with establishment of its Sony Innovation Fund. The corporate venture fund provides backup to the firm for partnering with startup companies and leading external researchers across the world. So far, the fund has resulted in investing on more than 10 companies in Japan, the USA, Europe, and other countries.
Then, we fast forward 10 months – and in May 2017, Sony joined the Partnership on AI organization – becoming the first Japanese firm to do so. The aims are, to take care of crucial AI issues, to enhance the relationship between AI and humans, and to apply AI in robotics, products, and services.
One month later, Sony made its ‘Neural Network Libraries’ available in open source. This serves as a framework to create deep learning programs for AI. The core libraries invite designers and engineers to develop programs on deep learning for creating and implementing AI accordingly.
In July 2017, Sony provided platinum sponsorship to the RoboCup 2017 international robotics competition, and the event marked its 20th anniversary this year. The yearly RoboCup event aims at “by the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.”
Furthermore, in the same month, Sony showcased several products and services, such as AIBO, QRIO, Xperia smart products, KOOV, and New Concept Cart. Additionally, Sony Global Education hosted the first KOOV Challenge, which is another international robotics competition that uses KOOV and invites children. This was a partner event to RoboCup.
In August this year, Sony started offering its own ‘Neural Network Console’, that too in free of cost. This initiative provides an integrated development environment to create programs based on deep learning. The program engineers and designers can go on to incorporate the programs into products and services by using the console’s GUI or graphical user interface – which leads to efficient neural network designing, evaluation, and learning.
October 2017 observed Sony announce the launch of Xperia Hello! It is a communication robot with abilities to recognize family members and to assist in daily life via talking. It can provide a sense of security and information regarding the household in various ways.
The same month, Sony announced a prototype of the New Concept Cart, naming it as SC-1. This looks to deliver a new experience in transportation, providing passengers or drivers with ideal views, irrespective of the surrounding atmospheres.
Finally, today, Sony announced Aibo, which is the successor of AIBO. It is basically a robot designed to offer entertainment to household members, thanks to its ability to form emotional bonds with humans. The upgraded model has numerous features and sensors to implement as per its capabilities – only to bring joy to the families amid hardships of life.
On an inferring note, Sony continues to actively support developments in Ai and robotics to succeed in its aim to create products and services on the way to social welfare.