We’re not exactly sure what Sony is hoping to accomplish with the Xperia Hello. For all intents and purposes, it appears to be a speaker that doubles as an intelligent assistant. Except, it also comes with wheels at the bottom that allows it to move around autonomously, so it can serve as a mobile robot that can follow you around if that’s what you wanted. Actually, we don’t know if it can do that, but it would be fun if it could.
That’s right, they made an intelligent speaker that’s also a mobile robot, so you can have the darn thing doing movements on the coffee table while answering all your queries for whatever joy it brings your way. Sony calls it a “communication robot” that’s designed to assist every family member at home while being adorable at the same time.
When a family member talks to the Sony Xperia Hello, the robot will turn and move such that it’s facing the person directly, with the 4.5-inch screen (720p resolution) on its body fully visible to the user. It’s able to do this courtesy of four motion sensors set up in its lower body, which can detect approaching movement within a three-meter radius. Aside from being able to move autonomously, it also comes with animated eyes that, we assume, changes depending on what kind of expression it’s attempting to convey. Through the display, by the way, it’s able to add visual components to its replies similar to the Amazon Echo Show, apart from serving as another screen for watching videos and video messaging on Skype.
To get the robot assistant’s attention, users simply need to call out “Hiperiaia,” which means “Hi Xperia” in Japanese. The voice is picked up by a seven microphone array set up within the same area in the lower body as the motion sensors, which picks up sound evenly from all directions. We assume it will work much like Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to make queries about whatever subject comes to mind. Except, you know, it’s an expressive robot that can move on its own, too.
According to Sony, the Xperia Hello can remember faces (it has a built-in camera) and recognize each family member, allowing it to keep track of any information you frequently ask it. Over time, it can automatically provide those frequently-asked information at the start of the day, whether it be news, traffic updates, weather forecasts, or anything under the sun. Because it recognizes each person, it can convey any saved messages to the exact person it’s meant for, so mom doesn’t have to find out about your weekend plans with the crew.
It’s also compatible with LINE, a popular video-based Japanese messaging system. It uses data from LINE, in fact, to let you check in on your kids at any time – just ask the robot to show you what your children are up to and they will notify you of the time and location their faces were last detected.
Doesn’t sound all that bad, right? Definitely. Until, of course, you hear the price. The Sony Xperia Hello will retail for ¥150,000 (around $1,300).