Sony (NYSE:SNE) is making video cameras smarter. The IMX500 line of intelligent video sensors will come with embedded access to artificial intelligence (AI) tools from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Azure. Camera systems built around these sensor chips will be able to analyze their video streams in real time.
What's the big idea?
The IMX500 sensor is not made for smartphones, but for enterprise-class security cameras and monitors in industrial equipment systems. Paired with a custom data management, Sony's chipset can analyze the video stream locally. This setup can tackle many video analysis tasks that currently are done by a central server in the cloud, allowing the security system or industrial instrumentation to take action without contacting a server first.
The app-and-sensor pairing needs to be trained with the help of the full Azure cloud-computing system, passing key video analysis signals down from the cloud-based machine learning process to Sony's sensor management app.
For example, a customer can train the IMX500 system to tell the difference between a good weld and a bad one by feeding it a certain number of example videos. A simplified form of the Azure-powered data analysis can then run in the end user's industrial environment, ready to sound the alarm when a bad weld shows up on the production line. It's a classic Internet of Things process, but the data analysis is done without sending the video outside this camera system's local environment.
Sony and Microsoft claim that the IMX500 system will simplify workflows and save both time and data traffic by keeping things local. Camera system builders will "spend less time on routine, low-value integration and provisioning work and more time on creating unique solutions to meet customers' demands."