28 May 2020
Sony is reportedly working on integrating AI smarts directly into the camera sensors for some faster AI processing. According to TheVerge report, Sony has already announced the first of these image sensors, called IMX500.
Currently, the AI processing and its related tasks are done via separated chips but soon image sensors will be doing all of those work on its own, thanks to built-in AI. While these image sensors have the ability to serve many applications but Sony has particularly highlighted the commercial ones initially. These include counting and tracking of visitors to public spaces, heat and congestion mapping and measuring shopper behavior retail locations. Well, the third application reminds us of those Amazon Go-like automated stores where the new Sony image sensors with built-in AI can prove to be of great importance.
Sony IMX500, the new image sensors include a logic processor and a memory. This means the desired processing is being done on the image sensors only and the whole process doesn’t even require any offloading to a specialized chip. Having a sensor with built-in AI makes the whole process faster and thus image sensors can do near-instant analysis like object tracking faster in whichever cases it is required.
Sony is said to have joined hands with tech giants like Huawei Technologies and Google that have been building dedicated AI silicon to help accelerate everything from image processing to machine learning.
Sony currently intends to produce the image sensor for its partners and clients but we can glean that it can serve for consumer products better as well, including AR applications. It can also help smartphones identify objects and users securely.
It is being assumed that these new kinds of sensors can be used in phones from its clients, including Apple. Sony has been the leader in building new image sensors for smartphones, and iPhones are also one of them that has been featuring them. Apple currently uses AI smarts via the neural engine in its iPhones. But this may change in the future as Sony offers the solution in its image sensor directly by integrating AI.
It is currently unclear when the new tech will come to the phones. But let's just have patience, as it is just the start and they may eventually land up in smartphones as well.