Sony Semiconductor Solutions, Microsoft partner

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Sony Semiconductor Solutions and Microsoft Corp, have announced they are partnering to create solutions that make artificial intelligence (AI)-powered smart cameras and video analytics easier to access and deploy for their mutual customers.

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

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 cutting-edge 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.

“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,” said Terushi Shimizu, representative director and President, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation.

“Video analytics and smart cameras can drive better business insights and outcomes across a wide range of scenarios for businesses,” said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president and commercial chief marketing officer, 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.”

Video analytics has emerged as a way for enterprise customers across industries to uncover new revenue opportunities, streamline operations and solve challenges. For example, retailers can use smart cameras to detect when to refill products on a shelf or to better understand the optimal number of available open checkout counters according to the queue length.

Additionally, a manufacturer might use a smart camera to identify hazards on its manufacturing floor in real time before injuries occur. Traditionally, however, such applications — which rely on gathering data distributed among many smart cameras across different sites like stores, warehouses and distribution centers — struggle to optimise the allocation of compute resources, resulting in cost or power consumption increases.

To address these challenges, Sony and Microsoft will simplify access to computer vision solutions 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. This integration will 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.

Sony’s smart camera managed app powered by Azure is targeted toward independent software vendors (ISVs) specialising 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 will 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.

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 and IoT Insider Labs program. Microsoft’s AI and IoT Insider Labs offer access and facilities to help 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 centres later this year.

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