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    Sony launches world’s first AI image sensor

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    Reading Time: 3 minutes read

    When it comes to smartphone, the main camera sensors we can see smartphones been using is either from Samsung or Sony. Except for Huawei, it uses their camera sensors from Leica. Up until now, there aren’t any camera sensors which comes with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Well, Sony launches the world’s first AI image sensor.

    The AI image sensor comes in two models which are IMX500 and IMX501. It is called the Intelligent Vision Sensor. Both of these models comes in 12.3-megapixel sensor. What makes it special is the Intelligent Vision Sensors which comes with the AI chip on board. If you compared the current image sensors from Samsung or Leica, they do the AI image processing through the smartphone chipset only.

    But for the Sony Intelligent Vision sensor, the AI processing is being done in the chip itself. This causes the time taken to do the image processing is faster compared to the current situation. Comparing with other camera sensors they have to send the data to the cloud. This where it does the AI processing.

    Sony Intelligent Vision Sensor Use Cases

    Sony has given a brief explanation regarding its latest image sensor use cases. According to Sony, its latest image sensor able to track an object in real-time with its AI chip on board. One of the use cases is the Amazon cashier-less Go as one of the potential application. The current Amazon cashier-less Go is having hundreds of camera in order to track its shoppers. If Amazon uses the Intelligent Vision Sensors, then they wouldn’t need hundreds of camera. Instead, they can use Sony AI image sensors to track the shoppers and charge them based on the items they have taken from the shelves.

    Another use case for this AI image sensor would be detecting where a person is wearing a mask. For this current COVID-19 pandemic, Sony can immediately roll out its camera sensors to multiple locations. With its powerful AI chip, it can allow the camera to send either “yes” or “no” to the authorities. Apart from that, in a shopping mall, these AI image sensor can be useful to know the customer behaviours by using heat mapping. With heat mapping, the shopping mall management can know which shops the customers like to visit.

    World’s first AI image sensor on a smartphone

    According Sony VP of Business and Innovation, Mark Hanson, Sony has been the smartphone market for a quite some time. It has more than 60 percent market share up until now. He also added that Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro uses the image sensor from Sony. Sony has shipped 1.6 billion sensors for smartphones. With this new AI image sensor, we can expect Apple to be one of the first smartphone makers to use the latest AI image sensor from Sony.

    In conclusion, the Sony Intelligent Visions Sensors could be really useful for both end users and also business users. According to Sony, the IMX501 sample units could be shipped to the smartphone makers some time around June 2020. We can’t wait to see how smartphone makers are going to use the world’s first AI image sensor on their products.

    Raaj Lokanathan
    A software engineer as a profession. A tech blogger as a passion.

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