Sony aims to make image sensors smarter to extend beyond smartphones

Sony on Thursday said it would make its cash-cow image sensors smarter to expand their applications, as the Japanese electronics maker seeks to reduce its reliance on a saturated smartphone market.

The company says it has developed the world’s first image sensor with an integrated artificial intelligence (AI) processor, which can perform tasks such as crowdfunding, bar code scanning and driver drowsiness monitoring – all on a single chip.

With an AI processor stacked on an image-sensing chip, the entire package can extract and process data without sending it to the cloud or anywhere else, eliminating transmission latency and reducing power consumption, Sony said.

The move illustrates how the Japanese giant, whose once dominant position in consumer electronics has been eroded by Asian rivals, still has a powerful arsenal of cutting-edge technology, such as sensors and robotics.

Sony’s chip business generates about 90 percent of revenue from image sensors for smartphone cameras, capitalizing on the recent focus on camera features by smartphone makers as their biggest differentiator.

On Wednesday, Sony said business profits could decline this year because the coronavirus outbreak has already clouded the outlook for the saturated smartphone market.

So the company aims to increase the percentage of its sensing solution business, including the latest AI-embedded chip, from 4 percent to 30 percent of the chip segment by March 2026.

ম Thomson Reuters 2020

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