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Sony Banks on AI as Key Survival Strategy: Others to Follow?

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Of late, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a critical factor of production as organizations increasingly realize that the ‘think robot’ has the capacity to change work flows, achieve new sources of growth and redefine the role of individuals to enhance productivity.

This radical change in technology simplifies complex physical tasks and significantly boosts the production process on a large scale, allowing greater output and reduced costs.

On this cue, Sony Corporation (SNE - Free Report) has been focusing on embedding AI and robotic capabilities within its audio video (AV) technologies to counter the existing and probable future threats to the Japanese technology and entertainment group from other tech giants.

The Japan-based electronics maker continues to improve its core AI technology and has incorporated it into a wide range of products to deliver new customer experiences and outsmart its competitors. Through its U.S. subsidiary — Sony Corporation of America — the company has inked an agreement with Carnegie Mellon University to collaborate on AI and robotics research.

Sony also got an early start on advanced AI research in areas such as autonomous cognitive developmental intelligence and deep learning technologies, which are now drawing a great deal of attention as the next big thing in AI technology. Few days ago, the company announced that it is bringing a refreshed Aibo — its iconic robotic puppy dog — to the U.S. market with a $2,899 price tag by the year-end. The company introduced the first of its Aibo pets in 1999, releasing several models before discontinuing them in 2006. To date, it has sold 20,000 units in Japan. The new smartphone-connected model of Aibo not only revives a classic product but acts as an ambassador of the Sony brand for a new generation of Americans. It can take pictures with a voice prompt, responding to its owner’s voice. Essentially, the point of Aibo is to remind Americans of Sony’s capabilities, and set the stage for more innovations from its stable in the field of AI, robotics and quality consumer electronics.

Coming to its flagship smartphone brand Xperia, Sony has incorporated AI technologies into the “AR Effect” Xperia camera app, which utilizes Augmented Reality Experience technology. It has also used AI in the “Lifelog” app that boasts behavior recognition capabilities in the Xperia smartphone series. The Smile Shutter function in digital cameras and Face Recognition feature on PlayStation are examples of the other ways in which AI has been applied for making lives easier and better.

Over the past decade, Sony had been facing deep losses in its electronics division due to evolving consumer preferences, which resulted in decreased product demand. In order to script a turnaround and improve its sagging share price and top line, the company focused on AI technologies and robotic capabilities, which helped it recover lost ground and is now well into it. This is well documented through the improving sales of AI-based products of this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock like Sony PlayStation, Xperia and Aibo. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Here are some glimpses of stocks within the industry, which have taken some initiatives in AI field to boost sales and remain relevant to the evolving consumer tastes and preferences.

Panasonic Corporation (PCRFY - Free Report) : Panasonic conducts R&D activities on AI at four sites in Japan and two overseas. Osaka headquarters site is Panasonic’s largest R&D site, gathering four of the technology divisions with the Advanced Research Division. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has been promoting R&D on AI technology combined with a broad range of products and devices developed in the company’s key business areas. Panasonic aims to assist people’s daily lives and business activities by combining technology including machine learning and natural language processing in the AI field.

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (DLB - Free Report) : This San Francisco, CA-based AV production firm has developed a combined sensor and AI system that tells whether someone is lying or inclined toward violence. The innovative product of this Zacks Rank #3 stock can see right through someone's expressions and identify any anomaly.

Sonos, Inc. (SONO - Free Report) : This Santa Barbara, CA-based AV production firm carries a Zacks Rank #3. Sono.Media is working with modernized innovative sound systems based on AI to upgrade innovative sound systems with smart functions. Innovative smart sound system, Sono, emits a tightly-focused beam of audible sound.

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