Sony recently claimed to develop the world’s first image sensor that comes with built-in artificial intelligence. This new sensor reportedly promises to make data gathering tasks much faster and more secure. Sony went on to call the technology the first of its kind, and that it would give “intelligent vision” to cameras in various retail and industrial use-cases.

The new Sony sensors are simply-put small computers with a logic processor and memory. As a result, they can recognize images without generating them. This allows the sensors to do AI-driven tasks like counting objects, identifying objects, and more in real-time without taking this information to another separate chipset. Since there is now no digital footprint of the data in the form of an actual image, the chip theoretically aids privacy and also works extremely fast. The chip makes analysis and object tracking now possible at basically near-instant speeds.

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Sony built the technology by collaborating with tech giants including names like Huawei and Google, companies that have been making chips dedicated to AI processing. The new sensor, if implemented in smartphone cameras, could vastly improve the efficiency and use-cases of Augmented Reality.

In terms of specifications, the new AI-augmented sensors are capable of capturing a regular 12-megapixel image along with 4K resolution video footage at up to 60 fps. Alternatively, the sensor could do neither of that and provide only small metadata about what it has seen. Sony suggests the feature can be used to count and track visitors in public spaces, or make heat-maps or other similar applications.

The Sony sensor could eventually come to smartphones too

While the major intended use of the technology will be commercial, consumer applications may also benefit from it. Take smartphone cameras and imagine your phone being able to instantly detect objects and maintain sharp focus, helping you film and keep the focus on fast or erratically moving subjects, for instance. As per a report by Bloomberg, Sony has reportedly already shipped samples of its new sensors to potential customers. Most of these are unsurprisingly in the b2b segment.

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