Sony is one of the biggest camera sensors producer in the world. It created sensor for from iPhone to Google, for the enthusiastic people’s DSLR to multi-million dollar Hollywood film shooting cameras. Over the year improvement in camera sensor means packing in more pixels and slimming down their size to fit into smaller devices. But this time Sony has come up with a new image sensor that has AI processing hardware built into the image sensor.
Sony has unveiled IMX500 and IMX501 two 12.3-megapixel sensors which have a logic chip built-in which is capable of AI image processing. Sony is calling these new sensors as Intelligent Vision Sensor. This is a new hybrid technology where Sony has put a traditional CMOS sensor on the top of a new AI logic chip. The current image sensor has a companion image processor that is used to sort pixels, compress them into a JPEG but they don’t have any AI capability built-in.
Right now any AI image sensor works with the help of cloud computing. After taking an image, the image is sent to the cloud for processing. After processing, it gets delivers to the device. But this process has some downside. First, you need an active internet connection send and receive the image from the cloud and secondly, it takes time to send and receive data from a cloud which means the action isn’t instantaneous or real-time. And of course, there is a privacy concern as the image gets sent to the cloud.
The new Intelligent Vision Sensor from Sony promises to solve all of the above problems. The image data is processed on the sensor means it can even work offline. As the data is being processed onboard means the action is instantaneous or real-time. And there no involvement of the cloud means all of your images stay in your device which leads to enhance security.
This new camera will come in handy in many scenarios. Smart speakers and other smart home devices can recognize individuals without sending any image data to the cloud. Cameras in public places, if needed, will be able to blur sensitive information like a license plate or your face. Cahierless stores like Amazon Go will easily track shoppers and charge them for objects they grab from the shelves. Other retailers will also be able to track the behaviors of the customer without using the cloud system.
To be clear, new IMX500 and IMX501 sensors may not able to do this much stuff. But this first-generation AI image sensor opens the path of future generation sensor which will able to do this stuff. Although this image sensor will not replace advance cloud-based machine learning tools anytime soon. But still, this technology has an exciting future ahead.