Image sensors, the device that converts light into electrical signals, form a growing market, led by mobile applications. The growth in this area is estimated mainly driven by multiple lens and larger sensors. The sensing capabilities are also expected to become a significant contributor in a medium to long-term perspective. In AV applications, the overall market share is decreasing, but the highly value-added segment is growing.
With the advances in AI and the IoT technology, market is also growing for new areas such as automotive, factory automation, and security applications.
Although the maturity of smartphones may temporarily slow down the market growth, image sensors are expected to fulfil an increasingly vital role in society and industry.
Sony Semiconductor Solutions Group’s image sensors are used in many applications across the world, notably in smartphones, digital cameras, automobiles, and security cameras. Currently, we maintain the world’s top share (on the revenue basis) at 49% of the entire market. Sony’s CCD image sensors were adopted in the world’s first color camera on passenger aircraft in 1980. Since then, we have steadily developed image sensor technology. Today, CMOS image sensors have become predominant, and their performance has surpassed the human eye. The technology continues evolving into the future.
With unmatched technical expertise throughout development, design, and production, Our Group will keep growing and remain to be the world’s leading company in image sensors.
* Source: Sony
Our Group will stay focused on image sensors, pursuing further advances in our leading imaging and sensing technology and ensuring growth in each market segment. We will also seek opportunities for further growth in both hardware and software by creating new use cases through collaboration, M & A, and other initiatives in various industries.
In hardware, we will take a medium-term perspective and manage our investments by carefully analyzing the trend of the demand for CMOS image sensors. We intend to attain the leading position in sensing while keeping the lead in imaging applications for CMOS image sensors worldwide.
In software, our ideal is to integrate edge AI processing to combine software with sensor hardware. This pursuit has a goal of establishing a recurring revenue business model. Toward this end, we will start by drawing plans and developing actions in terms of software and partner strategies.
Leveraging stacked CMOS image sensor features, the Group is embedding AI in image sensors to make sensors intelligent.Combining imaging and AI enables a quantum leap in quality.Combining sensing and AI enables unprecedented application-side recognition, machine vision, and more. The possibilities are unlimited. Until now, images sensors have generated data from the perspective of how people see the world. In the future, they will generate data from the perspective of AI, expanding the boundaries of our world.
To integrate edge AI into the hardware of CMOS image sensors, the Group is establishing a range of technologies. We believe bringing real-time operation and intelligence to CMOS image sensors will give them a competitive edge. Our layering technology, which uses an original copper-copper connection, provides greater freedom in integration between the pixel and logic section and promises to greatly expand the potential of CMOS image sensors.
With megatrends in society shifting from "mobile" to "mobility," Sony’s imaging and sensing technology is set to become even more relevant in the future. We interviewed Shimizu, who leads the Imaging & Sensing Solution (I&SS) business, Umebayashi, who contributed significantly to the development of the stacked CMOS image sensor, and two employees in charge of developing automotive image sensors and asked them about the future that they are trying to realize.