Sony and Microsoft Partner for AI-Powered Smart Camera Solutions

Microsoft Azure AI capabilities will be embedded on Sony’s IMX500 intelligent vision sensor to create new video analytics opportunities.

TOKYO — Sony Semiconductor Solutions (Sony) and Microsoft declare they are partnering to create solutions that make AI-powered smart cameras and video analytics easier to access and deploy for their mutual customers.

The partnership will result in the companies embedding Microsoft Azure AI capabilities on Sony’s intelligent vision sensor IMX500, which extracts useful information out of images in smart cameras and other devices, according to the companies.

Sony will also create a smart camera-managed app powered by Azure IoT and Cognitive Services that complements the IMX500 sensor and expands the range and capability of video analytics opportunities for enterprise customers.

The combination of these two solutions will bring together Sony’s imaging and sensing technologies, including the unique functionality of high-speed edge AI processing, with Microsoft’s Cloud expertise and AI platform to uncover new video analytics opportunities for customers and partners across a variety of industries, according to the companies.

“By linking Sony’s innovative imaging and sensing technology with Microsoft’s excellent Cloud AI services, we will deliver a powerful and convenient platform to the smart camera market. Through this platform, we hope to support the creativity of our partners and contribute to overcoming challenges in various industries,” says Terushi Shimizu, representative director and president, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp.

Video analytics can be used across a wide spectrum of applications — retailers using smart cameras to detect when to refill products on a shelf and monitoring available open checkout counters according to the queue length, or a manufacturer using a smart camera to identify hazards on its manufacturing floor in real time before injuries occur.

However, these types of applications require large amounts of computing resources due to the amount of data that is being gathered,  which can result in cost or power consumption increases.

By embedding Azure AI technology from Microsoft into Sony’s intelligent vision sensor IMX500 as well as enabling partners to embed their own AI models, those challenges will be addressed.

The integration is said to result in smarter, more advanced cameras for use in enterprise scenarios as well as a more efficient allocation of resources between the edge and the Cloud to drive cost and power consumption efficiencies.

“Video analytics and smart cameras can drive better business insights and outcomes across a wide range of scenarios for businesses,” says Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president and commercial chief marketing officer at Microsoft. “Through this partnership, we’re combining Microsoft’s expertise in providing trusted, enterprise-grade AI and analytics solutions with Sony’s established leadership in the imaging sensors market to help uncover new opportunities for our mutual customers and partners.”

Sony’s smart camera-managed app powered by Azure is targeted toward independent software vendors (ISVs) specializing in computer vision and video analytics solutions, as well as smart camera original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) aspiring to add value to their hardware offerings.

The app will complement the IMX500 sensor and will serve as the foundation on which ISVs and OEMs can train AI models to create their own customer- and industry-specific video analytics and computer vision solutions that address enterprise customer demands.

The app is said to simplify key workflows and take reasonable security measures designed to protect data privacy and security, allowing ISVs to spend less time on routine, low-value integration and provisioning work and more time on creating unique solutions to meet customers’ demands.

It will also enable enterprise customers to more easily find, train and deploy AI models for video analytics scenarios, according to the companies.

As part of the partnership, Microsoft and Sony will also work together to facilitate hands-on co-innovation with partners and enterprise customers in the areas of computer vision and video analytics as part of Microsoft’s AI & IoT Insider Labs program.

Microsoft’s AI & IoT Insider Labs offer access and facilities to build, develop, prototype and test customer solutions, working in partnership with Microsoft experts and other solution providers like Sony. The companies will begin working with select customers within these co-innovation centers later this year.

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