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Sony’s first AI image sensor will make cameras everywhere smarter

Sony on-device AI image sensor promises to be faster, cheaper, and more secure


Sony has announced the world’s first image sensor with integrated AI smarts. The new IMX500 sensor incorporates both processing power and memory, allowing it to perform machine learning-powered computer vision tasks without extra hardware. The result, says Sony, will be faster, cheaper, and more secure AI cameras.

Over the past few years, devices ranging from smartphones to surveillance cameras have benefited from the integration of AI. Machine learning can be used to not only improve the quality of the pictures we take, but also understand video like a human would; identifying people and objects in frame. The applications of this technology are huge (and sometimes worrying), enabling everything from self-driving cars to automated surveillance.MORE from James Vincent @TheVerge

For years, the evolution of image sensors has been about packing in more pixels and slimming down their size to fit into smaller devices. Now, they’re about to get smart. Today, Sony is unveiling the IMX500 and IMX501, two 12.3-megapixel sensors with onboard AI processing chips. They’ll be able to handle “light” machine learning tasks — like recognizing if a stray dog or cat enters your backyard — on their own, without sending any video to the cloud or another system. Instead, they can deliver anonymous metadata pings to alert you about what they’ve seen.

This may not sound very exciting as first, but as Mark Hanson, Sony’s VP of Technology and Business Innovation told me, it could make cameras significantly more useful. For one, it’s a way to ensure better privacy, since the sensors can handle AI tasks entirely on-device. That’s something that could be particularly useful in Europe, where the new GDPR guidelines severely limit how organizations can use surveillance video. The closer data can stay to their source device, the better. MORE from Devendra Hardawar@Engadget

WHY THIS MATTERS: This is most important to our industry for it’s potential for PTZ cameras. Not only for surveillance but for all applications. When Sony does something they go big, and they often then set the standard for industry-wide expectations.  -Cynthia Wisehart

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