Tokyo, Japan – Sony Corporation established Sony AI as an internal organization in November 2019 and it became a new company in April 2020 with a global presence in Japan, the United States and Europe. Sony AI promotes fundamental research and development of artificial intelligence (AI) and aims to “create AI that unleashes human imagination and creativity.”
In addition to Sony’s existing business areas of “gaming” and “imaging & sensing,” Sony AI has set “gastronomy” as its flagship theme for new technical and business exploration. With the aim of enhancing the creativity and techniques of chefs around the world, the Gastronomy Flagship Project consists of the research and development of an AI application for new recipe creation, a robotics solution that can assist chefs in their cooking proess, and a community co-creation initiative that will serve as a foundation to these activities.
In addition to Game, Music and Pictures, Sony AI sees great opportunities in Gastronomy as one of the global creative entertainment domains connecting chefs, who are creators, with their audiences. To this end, Sony AI will pursue its own research and development efforts in partnerships with various collaborators.
AI-Powered Recipe Creation App
Recipe creation is a very challenging research area for AI, as there are infinite possiblities for combinations of ingredients, as well as constraints such as location, climate, season, and a person’s health and food preferences, that must be taken into account.
Sony AI will utilize a variety of data sources – including recipes and ingredient data, such as taste, aroma, flavor, molecular structure, nutrients, etc. – to develop a Recipe Creation App that will be powered by proprietary AI algorithms to assist the world’s top level chefs in their creative process of ingredient pairing, recipe design and menu creation.
Through this App, Sony AI aims not only to assist in making delicious food, but also to contribute to people’s health and the sustainability of the environment.
Chef Assisting Cooking Robot
Developing a robotics solution that works in harmony with chefs – to replicate and in some cases even exceed their skills and techniques with high precision and speed – is a great challenge in the realm of AI and Robotics. This is precisely the reason that Sony AI will pursue this grand challenge through the research and development of an advanced and precise Chef Assisting Cooking Robot that can be an ultimate assistant to world-class chefs.
Cooking is a highly complex process that includes such steps as the preparation of ingredients of different shapes and characteristics, the physical transformation of these ingredients using various tools, and the plating of these ingredients into a final dish. Through collaborations with world-class chefs, Sony AI aims to create a solution that can assist chefs through the entire cooking process, from preparation to plating, by training the robots with sensors and AI for skill acquisition.
In addition, remote operations of these robots, for example to serve the chef’s meals to people in remote locations, are also in scope of these research and development efforts.
Community Co-creation Initiative
The creation and execution of new recipes and menus is based on the knowledge, experience and creativity of chefs, and the enjoyment of such creations is built on the health of the gastronomy community, which has been deeply impacted by the pandemic. With the aim to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the community, Sony AI believes it is essential to build and strengthen its relationships with the chef community worldwide, and to work with universities, research institutes and companies that are at the forefront of research in these areas.
Today, Sony AI is pleased to announce the release of the “Chef Interview Series” on its company website as the first step in building such relationships with the culinary community. Sony AI interviewed a total of 18 chefs and food experts via online interviews to learn about their sources of inspiration, the creative process behind their menu creation, their use of technology, their thoughts on sustainability, and other trends that will be essential to the future of gastronomy.
Sony AI will continue to drive dialogue with creators and experts in a wide range of food-related fields, and leverage these learnings in the development of its AI application and robots. https://ai.sony/
Comment from Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Sony AI Inc.
“What has become apprarent with COVID-19 is the importance of sustainability and health, and the value of intangible cultural assets including gastronomy and the arts we wish to protect. Through the power of AI and robotics, we want to reaffirm the principle of our gastronomy flagship project, which is to enable creative gastronomy that is at the same time healthy and sustainable. In addition to supporting the creative community through its Games, Music and Pictures businesses, Sony Group has also invested in a range of projects including Synecoculture (a new form of agriculture enhancing biodiversity) and Open Energy Systems (a distributed renewable energy based micro-grid system) that contribute to the well-being of our planet. Together with creators in the gastronomy community, we wish to contribute to creative, healthy, and sustainable gastronomy.”
Comment from Michael Spranger, COO of Sony AI Inc.
“As Gastronomy is a completely new domain for Sony, our approach is to pursue our activities in partnership with creator chefs, food experts and researchers, as well as universities, research institutes and companies with cutting-edge capabilities. We look forward to working with a wide range of stakeholders in the spirit of open innovation, with the end goal of making real world impact.”
About Sony AI Inc.
Sony AI was established with the mission to unleash human imagination and creativity with AI. Sony AI combines world class fundamental research and development capabilities in AI and Robotics. By working with Sony’s unique technical assets, especially Imaging & Sensing Solutions, Robotics and its Entertainment offerings, such as Games, Music and Pictures, Sony AI will accelerate Sony’s business transformation and create new business opportunities. In addition, one of Sony AI’s long-term goals is to contribute to the resolution of shared global issues that extend beyond Sony’s business domains.
※ As an example, when a user selects chocolate and junmai sake, AI suggests ingredients that pairs well (in this case cauliflower, nori and sea urchin and others).