Sony AI-powered sensors for industry, retail automation hold secure biometrics promise
Sony claims to have introduced the first artificial intelligence image sensors that speed up the data collection process and deliver enhanced security, including potentially for smartphone user recognition, by providing cameras with “intelligent vision,” writes Bloomberg.
Equipped with a logic processor and memory, the sensors resemble small computers that do not have to create new images, and leverage AI to recognize and analyze images without migrating them to a different chip, while at the same time ensuring information privacy. According to Sony, the cameras can benefit retail and industrial automation.
Huawei and Google have already been developing AI silicon to speed up image processing and machine learning. If the technology were embedded on smartphones, the latest semiconductors could be integrated with augmented reality applications.
Sony’s sensors can capture a 12-megapixel image, 4K video at as high as 60 frames per second, and can be applied to monitor the number of visitors in public spaces, to analyze shopper behavior and to create heat and congestion maps. Because they can process data without generating any images, the sensors can be embedded in consumer applications such as smartphones to securely identify objects and users, according to Bloomberg. Fast object detection can also help keep sharp focus when filming moving subjects.
Sony’s image sensors have been integrated with iPhones and Nikon cameras. According to the company’s CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony’s goal is to expand its sensing solutions portfolio and find more monetization opportunities. Some of its latest sensors have already been delivered to business partners.
Last year, Sony discussed integrating edge AI processing with sensor hardware and interest in a recurring revenue model. The company aimed for better picture quality in the integration, but also “unlimited possibilities” in recognition and machine vision. At the time, Sony had already increased production of 3D camera sensors for 2019, in response to interest from major electronics manufacturers, and was also working on an SDK for 3D imagery.