In Sony’s ideal world, the Xperia Agent is an omnipresent mix of watchdog, butler, and executive assistant. You can control it with your voice, gestures, and more. Ultimately, the goal is to make it as proactive as possible. “Let’s say you come into a room,” says Don Mesa, Sony’s head of marketing in North America. “The Xperia Agent will come on and recognize you.” It’ll turn on the lights you want, play your favorite playlists, and tell you about the calls you missed. It sounds as if most of the data and connectivity will come from your phone, which is different from the more self-sufficient Echo, but potentially gives the Agent even more information about you. With a swiveled head and blinking eyes, it’s meant to feel natural and friendly. “It feels like it’s more of a natural, human interface you can have a conversation with,” Mesa says.
Sony’s approach is what the next evolution of Echo could be. You’ll see more devices like it sooner than you think. It’s both deeper and wider than the Echo, in a way that could be powerful. Mesa says Sony’s goal is to “look at how we use the five senses for communicating,” to help us communicate through technology as variably and subtly as we did before. Through the Echo, Amazon has shown how powerful and flexible voice can be, how much you can do with a speaker and a microphone. Now Sony, and surely many others, are starting to think even bigger.