Sony, Microsoft strike deal on tiny AI chip with huge potential

published 18.05.2020 21:22

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Sony and Microsoft have partnered to embed artificial intelligence capabilities into the Japanese company’s latest imaging chip, a big boost for a camera product the electronics giant describes as a world-first for commercial customers.

Whereas Apple and Google still use conventional image sensors that convert light particles into computer-readable image formats for their chips to read, Sony’s new part is capable of doing the analytical work without any data leaving its physical boundaries.

“We are aware many companies are developing AI chips and it’s not like we try to make our AI chip better than others,” said Hideki Somemiya, senior general manager of Sony’s System Solutions group.

Instead of generating actual images, Sony’s AI chip can analyze the video it sees and provide just metadata about what’s in front of it — saying instead of showing what’s in its frame of vision.

Sony already enjoys a substantial lead as the world’s foremost provider of image sensors, counting Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and every major Chinese smartphone maker among its customers along with pro camera stalwarts like Hasselblad V, Fujifilm Holdings Corp. and Nikon Corp.