Monday, June 29, 2020

Sony Prepares Subscription Service for its AI-Integrated Sensors

Reuters, Bloomberg, Yahoo: Sony plans to sell software by subscription for data-analyzing sensors with integrated AI processor like the recently announced IMX500.

We have a solid position in the market for image sensors, which serve as a gateway for imaging data,” said Sony’s Hideki Somemiya, who heads a new team developing sensor applications. Analysis of such data with AI “would form a market larger than the growth potential of the sensor market itself in terms of value,” Somemiya said in an interview, pointing to the recurring nature of software-dependent data processing versus a hardware-only business.

Most of our sensor business today can be explained only by revenues from our five biggest customers, who would buy our latest sensors as we develop,” Somemiya said. “In order to be successful in the solution business, we need to step outside that product-oriented approach.

Customer support is currently included in the one-time price of Sony sensors. But Somemiya said Sony would provide the service via separate subscription in the future. Made-by-Sony software tools would initially focus on supporting the company’s own sensors and the coverage may later expand to retain customers even if they decide to switch to non-Sony sensors, he added.

We often get queries from customers about how they can use our exotic products such as polarization sensors, short-wavelength infrared sensors and dynamic vision sensors,” Somemiya said. “So we offer them hands-on support and customized tools.

Sony will seek business partnerships and acquisitions to build out its software engineering expertise and offer seamless support anywhere in the world. Somemiya said the sensor unit’s subscription offering is a long-term plan and shouldn’t be expected to become profitable anytime soon, at least not at meaningful scale.


  1. They could improve their sales channel. they advertise a software/sdk for their polarized sensor. I asked several times over the contact form and via email both at sony europe and their apparent distributor about this library but never got a reply. I'm looking forward to learn about Sonys "hands-on support and customized tools." for polarized and swir sensors.

  2. its actually a very good idea to sell a bit more than the sensor. Reference designs, ip core (e.g. simulation models or the lvds interface) would help a lot. reference on how to setup the sensor and for example optimized libraries for 'exotic' data like the polarized senosr (the tricky part is to calculate the polarized information fast enough, this could be done once and sold). Especially smaller teams integrating sensors in a larger product (not a standalone camera) would definitely buy this (its easier to get a few 10k in project budget vs. 1mon of development that in reality can become 3 months).

  3. Ahhh, if you've watched Star Trek Voyager, the Workforce episode, Seven of Nine was mind altered and given a job of Efficiency Monitor at a power generation facility.
    I guess these sensors with a beefier AI system could replace her :D


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