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Using information that humans can't capture in AI applications

Polarization image sensor

Through advanced imaging&sensing technology, Sony has developed unique image sensors that capture characteristics of polarized light which is difficult for typical image sensors. Combining these unique sensors with signal processing/machine learning algorithms will add a new dimension to AI capabilities.

Yasutaka Hirasawa Fundamental Technology Research and Development Div. 1, R&D Center Sony Group Corporation

Yasutaka Hirasawa Fundamental Technology Research and Development Div. 1,
R&D Center
Sony Group Corporation

A closer look at polarized light and polarization imaging

Light generally consists of waves oscillating in a variety of directions. Passing this light through a polarizing filter enables us to extract light oscillating in a specific direction. That's why even if the surface of water looks dazzlingly bright and impenetrable to our eyes, a camera can reveal what's below the surface quite clearly when equipped with a polarizing filter. We can also capture deep blue skies this way. Polarized light is also useful in recognizing object shapes, checking for surface scratches, or seeing how transparent objects distort under pressure. What's not apparent to the naked eye can be revealed through analysis under polarized light. Technologies that apply polarized light are referred to as polarized imaging.

Polarization sensor: A crystallization of Sony's imaging&sensing technologies

Sony has developed polarization image sensors with a 3.45 µm pixel size that are equipped with a four-direction polarizer. It's significant that this polarizer is formed using a semiconductor manufacturing process. For this reason, it outshines conventional polarizers that are simply bonded to sensors in precision, ease of mass-production, and durability. Polarization imaging has conventionally involved capturing a series of images after adjusting the polarizer to various angles, but Sony's image sensors with a four-directional polarizer enable imaging in one shot - analysis in real time. Among other potential applications, the sensors show promise in industrial field where visibility and sensing have been difficult.

Developing high-performance AI as we develop products

In many cases, AI has been developed by applying machine learning to images visible to the human eye. Without a doubt however, using polarization image sensors to take advantage of image information that we cannot capture will greatly expand the horizons of AI. To put it another way, instead of this technology solving our problems for us, the technology will expand our own ability to solve problems. We are picking up the pace in wholly new AI development that on draws on our unmatched development of high-performance sensors. And in consideration of the many different products and services Sony offers, we are uniquely positioned to rapidly develop practical, high-performance AI as we develop products and launch them around the world. Unlike AI development that relies solely on image processing or machine learning, this makes our work very satisfying.

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