Sony Outstanding
Engineer Award 2022

The Sony Outstanding Engineer Award, established to further inspire engineers to take on new challenges,
is the highest form of individual recognition for Sony Group engineers.
In order to develop products and services that appeal to customers' sensibilities,
there is a wide range of technologies that Sony will have to work on.
In addition to elemental technologies, there is also a need to integrate creative new technologies, and to optimize complex systems.
This section introduces the winners of the Sony Outstanding Engineer Award 2022,
who have actively addressed these challenges and achieved significant value creation.

Contribution to MPEG Standardization of Spatial Audio Technology and Realization of 360 Reality Audio

Toru Chinen developed spatial audio-related editing, encoding, decoding, and rendering technologies; designed a streaming format; and realized MPEG standardization. Moreover, he developed 360 Reality Audio based on these technologies and successfully monetized them through licensing. By developing, standardizing, commercializing, and monetizing basic technologies in an integrated manner, he substantially contributed to realizing spatial sound streaming and the popularization of Sony's 360 Reality Audio.

Contribution to the Robot Operating System (ROS) Community

Tomoya Fujita has been a member of the Robot Operating System Technical Steering Committee since 2019. He has successfully led the ROS Community in conducting collaborative projects with other companies to develop new functions and community activities. His contribution to the community has been reflected in Sony's robotics products, such as aibo, poiq, and professional-use drone Airpeak S1. Also, he has served as a member of the ROSCon Organization Committee and Programing Committee in 2022 and 2023.

3D Sensing Technology Development for the Immersive VR Experience of PlayStation®VR2

Shunichi Homma led the development of inside-out headtracking technologies to estimate the user's movement using the multiple cameras mounted on the VR headset, dramatically improving the head tracking with better accuracy than the conventional outside-in head tracker, and contributed to improving the fundamental value of PlayStation VR2 as a product. Also, he developed automated play area recognition technologies enabling the user to have a VR experience with a high-accuracy headtracking function, safely move around despite blocked vision, and feel an overwhelming sense of immersion as if they were in the game world.

Wafer-Level Diode-Pumped Solid-State Surface-Emitting Laser

Masanao Kamata succeeded in developing the first-ever chip-scale high-peak-power laser, a laser combining the structures of semiconductor and solid-state lasers, posted in “Nature Communications,” a famous British science journal, and selected as the Editor's Highlight in there. This new laser can be mass-produced in a very small size and at a low cost, contrary to the notion that many high-peak-power lasers cannot exceed the testing level, drawing keen attention for its rapid popularization.

Realization of 4K SXRD Laser Home Projector through Developing the World's Smallest and the Class's Brightest Optical Unit

Yuji Kato developed and realized mass production of the world's first aspherical fly-eye lens with an afocal function and led development of an illumination optical unit for home projectors. Besides developing an illumination optical unit, he realized the compact and highly efficient optical system by adopting the newly developed compact laser light sources and Native 4K 0.61" SXRD panel. As a result, the World's smallest and class's brightest home projector VPL-XW5000/6000/7000 series were launched in the market, leading to Sony's presence improvement and business expansion.

Establishment of Advanced Video Production Studios Mainly Specialized in Virtual Production (VP) and Market Creation

Daisuke Kobayashi contributed to establishing “KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA BASE,” a place for creators to experience and understand advanced video production techniques, such as virtual production. It has been widely used for various projects, including King Gnu's "Stardom" music video and different commercials. Furthermore, he led technology collaboration and information sharing within the Sony Group and also promoted business collaborations outside the Group, such as backdrop alliances and studio operations, resulting in creating new markets.

Development of Photogrammetry Software for Large Scale 3D Reconstruction

Andreas Kuhn developed a competitive solution for image-based 3D reconstruction in close collaboration across Sony and Universities. Representing the world in 3D is a very strong trend in industrial applications, virtual production, consumer electronics, and mobile devices. This solution is a key asset enabling smart sensing functionalities to give creators new tools and create new user experiences.

Contribution to the Realization of the Practical Use of Rights Management Blockchain for Music Creator Service

Masatomo Kurata developed a rights management blockchain system, to which a privacy protection technology is applied to enable the creators, the right holders, to securely manage rights-related information and realize transparent smart contract-based rights management. He contributed to the realization of practical use of blockchain and the progress of music copyrights management platform by developing a proof of existence (PoE) function allowing creators to register their music information on the blockchain of the music creator service to prove their rights to third parties.

Development and Commercialization of the Antenna that Realizes the Downsizing of a Metal Body Digital Camera

Shunsuke Nakai developed a unique small antenna structure whose performance is three times higher than the existing ones once mounted on conventional digital cameras of the same size. This antenna structure enables the downsizing of a metal body digital camera with wireless functions. It was first mounted on the digital interchangeable lens camera “α7R V,” contributing to commercializing a digital camera appropriate for strengthening wireless workflows.

Launch of the Virtual Production Business through the Development of CLED's Camera Shooting Function

Eizo Okamoto developed the LED emission technology “Camera Sync” that removes, on the display, image noise, such as visible blackbelts and stripes appearing when shooting a LED display with a rolling shutter camera. This technology is used for Crystal LED Display (CLED) to help creators create images. Also, he started operating a shooting studio at Sony Innovation Studios in U.S. and Sony PCL KIYOSUMI-SHIRAKAWA BASE and contributed to the launch of Sony's virtual production business.

Development and Commercialization of the World's First “Eye AF for Animals”

Takahiro Sato developed lightweight recognition AI installable in the " α" mirrorless interchangeable lens camera capable of autofocusing on “Real-time Eye AF for Animals” (the world's first animal eye AF). By continually taking leadership in initiatives to understand and offer values to photographers and creators who shoot various objects, such as wild birds, vehicles, train, aircraft, and insects, he created new customer values and contributed to enhancing the product value.

Development of Lightweight and Highly Accurate Face Recognition Technology, and Contribution to Sony's Products

Tatsuhito Sato developed a lightweight and highly accurate face recognition technology that works on edge devices. This technology utilizes a unique learning method that focuses on noise in the data, enabling lightweight yet robust recognition against changes in the subject and environment, making it deployable across a wide range of products. In the digital interchangeable lens camera “α7R V”, this technology enables it to continue focusing on pre-registered faces even with changes in lighting and face angles. The interactive character agent “CHELULU” utilizing this technology enabled instant recognition of visitors from a distance without contact and seamlessly initiated the reception process during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Development of Blackout-Free System for RX Series, α9 Series and α1

Kenzaburo Seki developed a system to interlock stacked image sensors and system LSI at a higher level in RX series, α9 series, and α1. This system realized a load reduction and extremely high-speed continuous and blackout-free shooting even without changing the camera size. Sony received both “Camera Grand Prix 2023 Camera of the Year” and “National Commendation for Invention 2022” due to this system. He contributed to strengthen Sony's camera technology, expand the market share of cameras for professionals and high-level amateurs, and enhance the brand's competitiveness.

Development and Commercialization of Silicon Pixels with the Best-in-Class Photon Detection Efficiency for SPAD Depth Sensor

Shohei Shimada developed a silicon Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) pixel with its proprietary structure that achieves extremely high photon detection efficiency and small pixel pitches. He realized this new technology by applying the pixel technology and knowledge used for CMOS image sensors that Sony has cultivated over the years. Based on this technology, he contributed to commercializing the high-performance SPAD depth sensors with a 10 μm pixel pitch mounted in smartphones. Furthermore, he established a scaling technology available for 10 to 2.5 μm pixel pitch. It was accepted for two consecutive years by IEDM, the most prestigious electron device conference, and is highly evaluated in the industry.

Contribution to Interchangeable Lens Business with Automated Optical Design Technology

Hisashi Uno developed an automated optical lens design system. By entering data from basic specifications, such as F-number and focal length, a design solution with sufficient resolution can be obtained immediately. This makes it possible to easily design prototype optical lenses, which commonly require high-level skills.

Realization of the AF Performance Evolution of α Series through the Development of AI Processing Unit

Masashi Wakatsuki developed “AI Processing Unit,” a low-power and low-latency LSI capable of deep learning processing, such as human posture estimation. With this unit installed, the digital interchangeable lens camera “α7R V” can accurately recognize humans and a wide range of subjects, such as birds, insects, and vehicles, bringing substantial progress to the camera's autofocus performance.

Development of Acoustic Technology Indispensable for Sony's Industry-Best Noise Cancelling Quality that Led Unprecedented Progress in 1000 X Series

Yushi Yamabe developed a next-generation noise-canceling technology using a multiple- microphone signal processing function to bring further progress to noise-canceling headphones. This new technology dramatically improved the noise canceling performance for medium-to-high frequency sound waves, such as human voice and daily life noise. It is used for WH-1000XM5 as "Multi Noise Sensor Technology," which substantially contributed to improving the product's performance, and supported the 1000X series in maintaining the industry-best noise canceling performance Sony boasts.

Establishment of Fluid-Acoustic Simulation Method for Wind Noise and Contribution to WH-1000XM5 & LinkBuds S

Atsushi Yamamoto developed the structure to optimize sound pickup of a microphone using a fluid-acoustic simulation method to minimize wind noise in noise-canceling or ambient sound capturing for headphones/earbuds. This technology lets users enjoy clear music and over-the-phone talk even with a strong wind. It is used for “WH-1000XM5” and “LinkBuds S,” contributing to product quality improvement.