Nov 5, 2021, Shanghai – At the 2021 China International Import Expo (CIIE), Microsoft China and Sony Semiconductor Solutions (Shanghai) Ltd. (Sony) announced a Partner Enablement Program to encourage China local qualified independent software vendors (ISV) and system integrators (SI) partners creating commercial AI camera-driven solutions, which combines Sony’s intelligent vision sensor IMX500, the world’s first* image sensor equipped with AI functionality, with Microsoft Azure’s AI technology capabilities to achieve AI processing on edge. As part of the partnership, Microsoft and Sony jointly launched Co-Innovation Labs in China for partners and enterprise customers in the areas of computer vision and video analytics, which offers access and facilities to build, develop, prototype and test solutions for partners and customers.
*Among image sensors. According to Sony research (as of its announcement date on May 14, 2020).
Makoto Kimura, President of Sony Semiconductor Solutions (Shanghai) Ltd. (Left) and
Joe Bao, President of Microsoft China (Right)
Joe Bao, President of Microsoft China said:” Our partnership has combined Microsoft’s expertise in providing trusted, enterprise-grade AI technology and analytics solutions with Sony’s established leadership in the imaging sensors market. The edge intelligence we ignite together has great potential in every industry, this uncovers unlimited opportunities for our mutual customers and partners.”
Makoto Kimura, President of Sony Semiconductor Solutions (Shanghai) Ltd. said: “The combination of Sony’s innovative imaging and sensing technology with Microsoft’s excellent cloud AI services will bring more powerful and efficient AI camera-driven solutions. We are confident that Sony’s collaboration with Microsoft in the Chinese market will further strengthen our ties with our partners and customers in China and contribute to the expansion of their business value.”
World’s first AI-processing image sensor, powered by Azure AI
Sony’s intelligent vision sensor IMX500 feature high-speed AI processing on the sensor, and output only semantic metadata information instead of image data, that helps in reducing data traffic and addressing privacy concerns.
Sony collaborates with Microsoft to embed Microsoft Azure AI technology capabilities on the sensor. This integration makes it possible to deliver diversified functionality for versatile applications, such as real-time object tracking with high-speed AI processing. This integration results in smarter AI camera-driven solutions for enterprise scenarios as well as a more efficient allocation of resources between the edge and the cloud to drive cost and power consumption efficiencies.
In addition, Sony created AI camera managed application powered by Azure IoT technology and Cognitive Services technology that complements the IMX500 sensor and expands the range and capability of video analytics opportunities for partners and customers.
Discover unlimited potential for commercial use
As result of the collaboration, AI camera-driven solutions bring together Sony’s cutting-edge imaging and sensing technologies, with Microsoft’s cloud technology and AI platform, and it unveils an unlimited potential for commercial use.
Users can create, choose, and upload AI models of their choice to the sensor and the AI camera-driven solution can be fully customized, enabling customers across industries to uncover new revenue opportunities, streamline operations and solve challenges.
For example, retailers can use AI 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 an AI camera to identify hazards on its manufacturing floor in real time before injuries occur. Traditionally such applications rely on gathering data distributed among many AI cameras across different sites like stores, warehouses and distribution centers, and struggle to optimize the allocation of computing resources, resulting in cost or power consumption increases.
Partner Enablement Program to encourage more players joining the game
At the 2021 CIIE event, Microsoft and Sony released a Partner Enablement Program (PEP) to recruit more China local qualified ISV/SI partners through Microsoft AI & IoT Insider Labs, leveraging the AI camera-driven solution to co-create more diversified industrial solutions. The launch of PEP enriches the existing ecosystem to recruit qualified partners with experiences, sales and marketing resources in their leading industry to develop and enrich solutions in various of industrial scenarios, overcome technological challenges and invests in go-to-market resources.
Both companies’ collaboration in China is part of the partnership between Microsoft and Sony Semiconductor Solutions, which was globally announced in May 2020 of which its details can be found here.
One of the Microsoft certified partners, Global ISV Hanshow, made the first wave of building its intelligent solution in the retail industry by onboarding a Partner Enablement Program. Hanshow’s solution employs multiple intelligent cameras with various AI models for monitoring product volume status, customer traffic flows, and sales status. By integrating stationary cameras, it can also provide a heat map tracking in-store customer journeys, providing retailers with valuable insights to increase sales.
Hanshow’s experience in global retail markets, combined with the technological support from Microsoft and Sony “can accelerate co-innovation initiatives to better serve the rapidly changing and diversified retail industry, helping retailers to be more agile and profitable. We are also exploring application of this solution in manufacturing and other industries together with Microsoft and Sony.” said Shiguo Hou, the CEO of Hanshow.
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About Sony Semiconductor Solutions
Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation is the global leader in image sensors. We strive to provide advanced imaging technologies that bring greater convenience and joy to people’s lives. In addition, we also work to develop and bring to market new kinds of sensing technologies with the aim of offering various solutions that will take the visual and recognition capabilities of both human and machines to greater heights. For more information, please visit: Sony Semiconductor Solutions Group.