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Sony Rumored to Re-launch Aibo & Tap AI: A Gamechanger?

Zacks

Nearly 11 years after Sony Corporation SNE pulled the plug on Aibo, the robotic dog, everyone loved, is about to make a dramatic comeback as a smart-home assistant per the Nikkei Asian Review.

The report suggests that the iconic gadget of the yesteryears will be updated for modern times, with its own set of skills, just like Amazon Echo and other such smart speakers. We believe the time is ripe for an Aibo comeback, with AI (artificial intelligence) rapidly emerging as the transformational force for technologies.

Per reports, Aibo will return by mid-2018, in its new avatar of a household robot, equipped with AI and internet connectivity. It will be equipped to control household appliances via voice control.

Re-launching Aibo can be viewed as Sony's shot at competing against giants like Amazon, Inc. AMZN, Apple Inc. AAPL and Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, which have own stationary smart home hubs.


Why Aibo was Discontinued

The Sony Aibo, a robotic dog that was way ahead of its time, stopped rolling off the production lines in 2006. Aibo became a victim of reorganization at Sony which focused, instead, on mainstream electronics like consoles and televisions.

Even with its steep $2,000 price tag and restricted abilities (this was before the recent surge in AI capabilities), Aibo was popular among robotics fans.

With much more advanced AI capabilities, and smart-home appliances and hubs getting increasingly popular, Aibo likely has a good role to play in today’s markets. Reports state the new Aibo could be released as early as next spring.

Sony’s Strategy

Till date, Sony has only experimented in the AI smart-assistant space through products incorporating both the Google Assistant and Alexa platforms. The Aibo would likely run on Sony's proprietary voice-control product — the Assistant. However, reports indicate that the company’s plans to open source the operating system, and invite developers to add more functions and capabilities to the new Aibo.

Having just emerged from a long restructuring period, Sony hopes to compete with rivals in the information technology industry. The in-home robot signifies a strategic shift for the company, which feels that Aibo will be able to create a foothold in the still-nascent home-use robot sector.

Sony aims to offer users a fresh experience by integrating its audiovisual and home entertainment technologies with the latest advancements in robotics and AI.

The above-mentioned move marks Sony’s return to consumer robotics. In light of the swift rise of products like Amazon Echo and Google Home, the smart assistant space is clearly a smart place for Sony to be.

Sony currently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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