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Sony: Playing games, hearing music, using AI


Renowned for their broad range of products in customer electronics headed by the PlayStation, Sony doesn’t rest on successes from their past. With innovative approaches in the use of artificial intelligence in the gaming and music industry the company is about to provide casual gamers an easier access and expand the possibilities for core gamers and professional musicians.

Sony is an integral part of everyday life. The Japanese electronics company, founded in 1946 in the nearly destroyed Tokyo where it is still headquartered today, has become indispensable in their core business consumer electronics. Gaining its worldwide reputation with pioneering in the manufacturing of transistors used in radios and TVs as well as innovations at videos and stereo systems and digital cameras, the flagship position of Sony’s product range is occupied by the PlayStation. While speculating about the release date of Sony’s next gaming console, the unconfirmed but likely to be named PlayStation 5, the gamers and gaming industry were listening attentively to a recent news.

Realizing a future vision in gaming

Sony filed a new patent for an artificial intelligence powered voice assistant called PlayStation Assist, expected to work like Siri, Alexa or Cortana, which could, when integrated in the PlayStation 5, enable gamers to get help while getting bogged down in a game, provide answers based on the context of the game or information’s about the game, specific characters or strategies or schedule gaming appointments with friends. Additionally, based on a deep learning engine running in the background, the functionality and gaming experience could significantly improve through machine learning.

Whereas this gaming assistant doesn’t really seem to be attractive for core gamers, even for them it would create breathtaking options. The PlayStation Assistant concept would not only be a big plus for the accessibility of games for casual gamers, but moreover work very well with VR games as an AI assistant, functionally steadily improving itself, would make the dream of the future pictured in science fiction movies or games becoming reality. Sony’s possibilities of advertising this kind of assistant would be as extensive as its conceivable uses.

Broadening musically possibilities

However, the possible applications of AI don’t stop at gaming. With DrumNet scientists at the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Paris, France developed a technology for AI-assisted music production, in detail a machine learning model that tracks kick drum beats, aiming to provide musicians with advanced tools to be more efficient in realizing their creative ideas. In order to train the AI, the scientists generated data from 665 songs and various genres like pop, rock or electronica. The system collected all the kick-drum patterns according to the additional instruments and regardless of the speed or duration of the song.

Based on an artificial neural network, learning rhythmic relationships between different instruments and encoding them, DrumNet can, in following the statistics of the training data, autonomously generate kick drum tracks as well as be controlled by manually navigating the style space or used to extract a style from an existing piece, which makes it a powerful tool that should under no circumstances be underestimated.

Integrating PlayStation Assist in the upcoming PlayStation model and providing a completely developed version of DrumNet will positioning Sony in the first row of companies enabling AI advantages for single and business customers. The dream of easily solving this hard quest in your science fiction VR game, on which you despaired for days, while listening to the song with this awesome AI drum solo doesn’t seem to be far away anymore. And who knows which else AI future innovations Sony has in reserve.