Sony AI launches new project dedicated to gastronomy research

It plans to deliver an AI-powered recipe creation app and an in-kitchen assistant robot.

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GUI of AI-powered recipe creation app

Image: Sony AI

Sony AI, the machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) research arm of the Japanese conglomerate, has launched a new project that will be dedicated to gastronomy research and development.

The gastronomy flagship project, as it has been dubbed by Sony AI, will focus on three key areas: an AI application for new recipe creation, a robotics solution that can assist chefs in the kitchen, and a community co-creation initiative.

Sony AI said it will use data sources -- including recipes and ingredient data, such as taste, aroma, flavour, molecular structure, and nutrients -- to develop the recipe creation app, which it hopes will be used by chefs when designing recipes and menus.

The company added that it envisions the chef assisting robot will be trained with sensors and AI so it can help chefs through the entire cooking process, from preparation to plating.

Meanwhile, the community co-creation initiative will focus on partnering with the global chef community, as well as universities, research institutes, and relevant companies to further assist Sony AI in its project.

Read also: How robots are reinventing food service (TechRepublic)

"What has become apparent 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," Sony AI CEO Hiroaki Kitano.

"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 acknowledging that gastronomy is a new area for the company, Kitano said there are plans 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".

Earlier this year, Sony developed the world's first image sensor equipped with AI processing.

The new image sensor has a configuration consisting of a pixel chip and logic chip. The logic chip, called Sony's digital signal processor is dedicated to AI signal processing, along with memory for the AI model. 

By using AI, Sony said the sensor is also able to output metadata -- semantic information belonging to image data -- instead of image information, which reduces data volume and addresses privacy concerns. For practical applications, Sony said the logic chip within the image sensor allows it to send data for each individual output image frame for AI processing within a single video frame.

Sony AI was established as an internal organisation within Sony Corporation in November last year before it was launched as a new company in April.

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