Sony announced this week that is has launched Sony AI, a new organization that will research and develop artificial intelligence specifically for games, imaging and sensors, and “gastronomy.” The new initiative will have offices in Japan, Europe and the U.S.
There aren’t many details around what exactly Sony will be working on, but Sony spokesman Shinichi Tobe told AlJazeera yesterday that “AI and robotics will not replace chefs. We are aiming to offer new tools to expand their creativity with AI and robotics.”
This isn’t Sony’s first foray into food. In April of last year, Sony teamed up with Carnegie-Mellon University to work on food robots. As we reported at the time:
Sony said they were starting off with food-related robots because the complexities involved with food could later be applied to a wider range of industries. Specifically, it cited the ability to work with fragile and odd-shaped materials, as well as the ability to operate a robot in small spaces.
AI and robots are like peanut butter and chocolate with AI being the “brain” for the robot “hands.” Things like computer vision, deep learning and synthetic data help form the AI so the robot can determine objects to grab and manipulate, etc..
Sony’s motivations may also be more societal in nature as the company’s home country of Japan is facing an aging population. Robots and other forms of automation could help with a potentially diminished labor force.
Food is a popular subject for robotics and AI researchers. Nvidia’s Lab in Seattle built a kitchen to train its robots to do everyday tasks. IBM partnered with spice company McCormick to use AI to develop new food products. And Korea’s Woowa Bros. hooked up with UCLA to work on food robots as well.
Something tells me we’ll be seeing more of these types of deal throughout next year.