May 14—Sony unveiled a new image sensor that features robust onboard artificial intelligence (AI) processing capability. The IMX500 has a pixel chip that captures high definition images and a logic circuit that performs data analysis.
The conglomerate believes its new offering has a range of potential applications in the retail and industrial sectors.
Sony IMX500 Details
In a press release, Sony explained it developed its new image sensor to address the growing popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled camera systems.
Specifically, the firm wants to address the issues of latency and security. The corporation feels connected image recording platforms are flawed because they have to transmit data to the cloud or a dedicated CPU for processing. The corporation also notes the current paradigm wastes time and leaves IoT system vulnerable to outside attacks.
The company’s solution to both issues is the IMX500, a stacked chip with robust photographic and machine learning capability.
The image sensor captures imagery at 12.3- megapixels, 60 frames per second, and at 4K resolution. The component’s built-in AI can perform image signal processing tasks at a rate of 3.1 milliseconds, which allows for real-time object identification and tracking.
Sony designed the IMX500 so users can outfit it with their chosen AI models, which gives it a wide array of applications. The company points out retailers can use it to count customers, analyze their behavior, and identify stock shortages.
Indeed, Sony VP Mark Hanson told The Verge the IMX500 would be a good fit for Amazon’s cashierless Go stores. The e-commerce giant’s convenience stores utilize IoT-enabled cameras to perform checkouts and make restocking alerts. However, the company reportedly slowed the rollout of its retail locations because of high hardware costs.
As Sony is providing samples of its image chip for ¥10,000 ($93.40), it could be the solution Amazon needs to scale up its brick-and-mortar business.
In addition, the firm’s new chip could also have applications in consumer electronics. Given its advanced object recognition capability, the component could allow for impressive high-speed photography. The image sensor’s rapid processing capability could also be advantageous in optimizing next-generation augmented reality applications and games. For instance, Sony client Apple is currently working on augmented and virtual reality hardware, so it will likely be interested in the IMX500.
Last year, Bloomberg reported demand for Sony’s image sensors reached a level that required the company to operate its production facilities on a 24-hour schedule. The company’s latest innovation in that field should keep its ordering volume at a high level.