Monday, February 26, 2024

Sony unveils new intelligent vision sensors with built-in AI functions

Sony is currently known as one of the most well-known camera vendors. Even today, camera sensors made by Sony are widely used by well-known smartphone sellers. Recently, Sony has announced the launch of two new intelligent vision sensors named IMX500 and IMX501, the first image sensors in the world to be equipped with AI.

As per information, until now, smartphone vendors can only improve the quality of their photos by using AI technology in the software section. But the new camera sensor from Sony is already equipped with AI (Artificial Intelligence) processing functionality directly on the hardware. This should enable high-speed edge AI processing and extraction of only the necessary data.

Besides, these two sensors are also equipped with cloud services that can reduce data transmission latency, minimize privacy issues, and also reduce the power consumption and communication costs of these sensors. The sensors are not intended for mobile devices, but for special cameras with AI features that could be used in the retail and industrial equipment sectors.

Example of camera usages in a facility.
Example of camera usages in a facility.

The new intelligent vision sensors feature a stacked configuration consisting of a pixel chip and logic chip. The signal that the pixel chip detects is processed by the AI on the sensor so that no high-performance processors or external memory are required. Instead of image information, the sensor outputs metadata (ie, semantic information about the image data), which reduces the amount of data and takes account of data protection concerns.

IMX500 and IMX501 are sensors with a resolution of 12.3 MP, type 1/2.3 (diagonal 7.857 mm), which are able to record video at a resolution of 4K at 60 fps. The IMX500 is a “bare” chip, and the larger IMX501 contains an encapsulated product. Users can rewrite and update it according to its requirements or the conditions of the location where the system is being used.

Sony itself mentions, for example, when installed at the entrance to the facility it can be used to count the number of visitors entering the facility; when installed on the shelf of a store it can be used to detect stock shortages; when on the ceiling it can be used for heat mapping store visitors (detecting locations where many people gather), and the like.

So there are quite a lot of potential applications. IMX500 is already available for 10,000 Japanese yen (approx. the US $93), the IMX501 will come in June for 20,000 yen (approx. the US $186).