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Sony chief looks beyond smartphones towards robotics

Published 02/09/2016

Sony's new wireless noise-cancelling headphones
Sony's new wireless noise-cancelling headphones

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has said he believes technology will move beyond smartphones in the future and that the tech giant is open to working in robotics.

On Thursday, Mr Hirai had taken to the stage at the IFA electronics show in Berlin to discuss the Japanese firm's newest products, including their new Xperia XZ phone, as well as new noise-cancelling headphones, a gold-plated Walkman and a glass sound speaker which has now gone on sale in the UK.

Speaking to the Press Association after his keynote, Mr Hirai said that Sony was keen to explore new areas of technology as part of their 'last one inch' mantra that refers to getting products close to consumers, and that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics were a part of that.

"I think the combination of 'the last one inch' - things that you hold in your hand to access or upload information, entertainment and so on - that combined with AI and robotics is the area that, I think, is going to be a future growth area in a big way for Sony going forward," he said.

"One of the reasons we currently believe that - we're not saying this because it's a buzzword for this year - is that we used to create things like the Aibo (robotic dog) for example and the Qrio robot - that was never put into market obviously - but we have a lot of robotics and electronics know-how within the organisation.

"We have a lot of sensor technology, we obviously have a lot of AI technology as well and we feel that when you look at all the asset bases that we have, this combination of getting into robotics and combing it with AI is a natural result when we say 'what can we do to bring everything together?'"

He also dismissed the suggestions that AI-driven robots could be a threat, something Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk has previously claimed.

"I think that really depends on what sort of AI we're talking about and what area we're talking about as well. So, I think, to say 'AI, we should be concerned', just with a broad stroke brush, I think, is actually very dangerous.

"If Sony comes up with a robot for the house, is the AI involved in that dangerous or not? Consumers ultimately decide but I think it's a little bit of a general statement - too general."

Sony currently lies behind the market leaders Apple and Samsung when it comes to smartphone sales, but have recently seen their mobile business return to profitability, something Hirai, the former PlayStation chief, also wants to see the company continue, while keeping an eye on the future.

"They (Sony Mobile) are tasked with ensuring that we continue to grow the Xperia business, number one. But just as importantly, is making sure that they are spending resources to look at what the next paradigm shift is going to be in personal communications.

"We had a real dramatic shift from feature phones to smartphones - this was about 12, 13 years ago now. At some point in time it is my belief that there is going to be a new paradigm shift in terms of communication devices that's going to move beyond smartphones or maybe even works with smartphones."

He added that Sony's latest products, including their new earpiece that reads your phone's notifications to you, showed thought was already being put into this future.

A boy plays a virtual reality game at the booth of XMG at the booth of Samsung promoting the Galaxy Note7 smartphone at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 2, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
A boy plays a virtual reality game at the booth of XMG at the booth of Samsung promoting the Galaxy Note7 smartphone at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 2, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
A visitor painting on a tablet at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors passing the stand of Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on September 2, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors passing the stand of Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on September 2, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors passing the stand of Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on September 2, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors passing the stand of Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on September 2, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors visit the stand of Samsung to watch the Galaxy Note 7 at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on September 2, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors try out virtual reality from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the waterproof S7 from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the waterproof S7 from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor passing the display wall from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor photographs the new S 3 whatch from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the new S 3 whatch from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the waterproof S7 from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors stay in front of a stand at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors try out S 3 whatch from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the waterproof S7 from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tries out virtual reality from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor passing the display wall from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the waterproof S7 from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tries out virtual reality from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors passing the stand of Huawei at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tries out virtual reality from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors wait in for lunch at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors pass the stand of Jarre at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: A visitor tests the waterproof S7 from Samsung at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on August 3, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 02: Visitors passing the the letters of the China at the 2016 IFA consumer electronics trade fair on September 2, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. IFA is among the world's largest trade fairs for consumer electronics and home appliances and runs from September 2-7. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Visitors wait to get access to the fair grounds of Berlin's mega consumer electronics fair IFA opening its doors to the public on September 2, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Rainer Jensen / Germany OUTRAINER JENSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Visitors wait to get access to the fair grounds of Berlin's mega consumer electronics fair IFA opening its doors to the public on September 2, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / dpa / Rainer Jensen / Germany OUTRAINER JENSEN/AFP/Getty Images
A Galaxy Note7 smartphone is on display at the booth of Samsung promoting the Galaxy Note7 smartphone at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 2, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A volunteer puts final touch on the booth of Samsung promoting the Galaxy Note7 smartphone at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 2, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A robot paints a portrait on a GalaxyNote7 smartphone at the booth of Samsung at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 1, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
A woman is reflected in front of a screen installation at the booth of Samsung at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 1, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A man passes a screen installation at the booth of Samsung at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 1, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A man passes a screen installation at the booth of Samsung at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 1, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The waterproof GalaxyNote7 phone is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the global release at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The waterproof GalaxyNote7 phone is presented at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the global release at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the global release at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The Samsung Gear S3 smart watch is presented at the global release at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
People use VR glasses during a presentation at the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A man passes a giant screen at the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch during a presentation at the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
People use VR glasses during a presentation at the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
The global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch takes place at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
People use VR glasses during a presentation at the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Younghee Lee, head of global marketing for Samsung's mobile division addresses the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Younghee Lee, head of global marketing for Samsung's mobile division addresses the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Younghee Lee, head of global marketing for Samsung's mobile division addresses the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Younghee Lee, head of global marketing for Samsung's mobile division addresses the global release of the Samsung Gear S3 smart watch at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
CEO of Acer, Jason Chen, right, presents the new Acer Predator 21x, the first Gaming laptop with a curved screen, on the first press day of the international radio exhibition, IFA, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. The IFA will take place from Sept. 2 to 7, 2016 on the Berlin fair grounds. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)
CEO of Acer, Jason Chen, presents the Acer Swift 7 on the first press day at the international radio exhibition, IFA, in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. The IFA will take place from Sept. 2 to 7, 2016 on the Berlin fair grounds. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP)
A woman puts final hands on the booth of Miele on the first press day of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A man stands next to WiFi symbols on the first press day of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A man stands next to a WiFi symbol on the first press day of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A fridge with a built-in webcam is presented at the booth of Bosch on the first press day of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A woman fixes her hair next to an installation promoting the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
WorkerS look at a screen on the booth Changhong on the first press day of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A woman takes a picture of a vacuum cleaner on the first press day to the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on August 31, 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
A woman is reflected on the door of A Fridge system at the booth of Bosch on the first press day of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, on 31 August 2016. The IFA is considered the worldwide biggest leading fair for entertainment electronics, IT and household appliances and opens its doors from September 2 till 7. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images

"Things like the Xperia Ear, for example, are ways in which we're exploring new opportunities beyond smartphones and so their mission is to make sure we look at and really strategise for the future of personal communications within the Sony group, leveraging all the technology we have within the group. And hopefully, as that paradigm shift comes, we're not riding anyone else's shift, but we're creating that shift."

Chinese firm Huawei has unveiled two new mid-range smartphones and a tablet at IFA, while fellow giant Samsung has been focusing on their Gear S3 smartwatch.

"When the shift from feature phones to smartphones happened, the leaders in the feature phone business were displaced very quickly by the leaders in the smartphone business.

"So this is a market that's like Othello - you can be winning, but it can be turned around very quickly and it's really up to us and the other manufacturers to think about what really resonates with the customers, and that's our mission."

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