Entering the nascent space of voice-based hardware, Sony has unveiled its Xperia Hello that works as a communication robot — powered by the Xperia Agent assistant that was unveiled at Mobile World Congress back in 2016. The new product is initially exclusive to Japan, and will come with a price tag of JPY 150,000 (approximately Rs. 85,800). It launches on November 16.
Sony’s Xperia Hello has a 4.6-inch LCD panel with multi-touch support and an upper body camera that all make it an upgrade over other smart speakers, include Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod and Google Home. Nevertheless, the device that is touted to be “like a family member”, with the way it fits into the home space. It has four motion sensors and seven microphones. This combination helps to detect objects approaching within a three-metre radius. The Xperia Agent has also been rebranded to Sony Agent.
The Xperia Hello can rotate up to 340 degrees and turn its body to greet anyone who speaks to it. Sony has provided lights at the top of Hello’s body that function as eyes, and express feelings such as loneliness, happiness, sadness, and excitement. The bot also has support for Skype and LINE that you can leverage to make voice and video calls.
You can use the command “show me what my family is up to”, and the Xperia Hello will notify you of the last time it detected your children’s faces. Similarly, “show me what you see” command will transform the robot into a security camera and provide you with a view of its surroundings.
Just like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, the Xperia Agent on the Xperia Hello bot provides you with live alerts about news, traffic, weather forecasts and messages. The device can even be personalised by setting up preferred news categories for each of your family members. Further, it can notify you of any accidents or traffic delays along your route.
One big task that completely separates the Xperia Hello from the competition is its ability to dance. You just need to ask the device to “do a dance” and then watch the action live.
It is worth noting that Sony hasn’t yet revealed any details about the available technology behind Xperia Agent. However, the robot could be based on a custom Android version. Some artificial intelligence (AI) efforts are making the hardware a brighter contender.