Sony’s getting the old crew back together for one more job. According to a new report out of the Nikkei Asian Review, the electronics giant is reuniting the team between its beloved, bygone robotic dog Aibo, in order to develop a new version of the bot for the age of smart assistants.
The dog is said to be the first of a number of consumer offerings from the company designed to help Sony catch up with AI-powered offerings from the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple.
Whether or not the company will bring back the Aibo brand is in question. It’s a beloved name to those in the know and a product that seemed well ahead of its time. After seven years and a number of reboots, however, Aibo failed to become more than a curiosity with mainstream consumers.
And it's true, we've been burned before. But a dozen years after killing it off, perhaps there’s enough nostalgia to warrant a full comeback for the Aibo brand.
The move marks a return to consumer robotics after the company spent time exploring more industrial applications for the technology. It also comes as Sony is looking to strike gold once again on the consumer side. Given the rapid rise of products like Amazon Echo and Google Home, the smart assistant space would seem like a no-brainer.
The robot is said to be a little bit Aibo, a little Amazon Echo, patrolling the home like a dog, while responding to voice commands and controlling smart home appliances.
Up to this point, however, Sony’s smart assistant strategy has been a mess. The company has had one foot in and one foot out, launching its own simply titled Assistant for products like the Xperia Ear Bluetooth wearable. But the shortcomings of its own offering have found the company releasing devices with Alexa and Google Assistant, including a HomePod competitor announced earlier this year at IFA.
According to the new report, the Aibo-like robo-pup will run a proprietary AI that will embrace third-party functionality. Whether it’s an updated version of Sony Assistant or something else entirely, however, remains to be seen. Though, the company is said to be building out its artificial intelligence research in a big way, in order to catch of the likes of Amazon and Google.
We’ve reached out to Sony for comment.