Sony has a lion’s share in the image sensor market and is growing in stature and scale with time. Thus it has the edge to innovate and introduce new technologies. The newest products out of the Sony semiconductor foundry is – “Intelligent vision sensors”.
The company has unveiled two new sensors IMX500 and IMX501, that come with AI integration. Sony claims these sensors will leverage machine learning and will be a faster, cheaper, and more secure AI cameras. Notably, these are targeted for commercial hardware rather than consumer application, at least in the beginning.
Sony IMX500 and IMX501
Both Sony IMX500 (1/2.3″ or 7.857 mm diagonally) and the Sony IMX501 (1/2.3″ or 7.857 mm diagonally) has a 12.3MP resolution and support video recording at 4K@60fps, 1080p@ 240fps, and 30fps.
The sensor feature a stacked design comprising a pixel chip and a logic chip. All the signal processing is done on the device itself, something which is technically called Edge computing. Further, the data is stored in metadata, which means lesser data size, and also ensures privacy. No data will be sent to cloud or third party server.
Sony states the AI can be modeled for varied use cases by simply rewriting internal memory.
As already mentioned, this will result in privacy, data storage saving, reduced data transmission, and above all benefit cost-wise.
These are some of the possible applications – scan customers at an Amazon cashier-less Go stores, to determine whether someone is wearing a mask, and other industrial automation avenues. That said, this will not be good for complex tasks, like autonomous vehicles, wherein a dedicated AI hardware is a must, at least in the near future.
Well, this is the first-gen and more improvements would come in the following releases. For now, the test samples of the IMX500 are being shipped to customers. Sony has priced the IMX500 at a starting price of ¥10,000 (~Rs. 7,035.89). The first products with the image sensor are expected to hit the market in Q1 2021.