The electric car above was one of the greatest surprises at the 2020 CES. Not because of its specs: it is 192.9 in (4,90 m) long, 74,8 in (1,90 m) wide, and weighs 5,181 lbs (2,350 kg). It has two electric motors that give it 544 hp. With them, it can go from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.8 s and a top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h). You’ll ask what is surprising about it, right? The manufacturer: Sony made this car.
The Japanese company says its focus was in “pursuing safety, reliability, comfort, and entertainment.” The official press release mentions a “total of 33 sensors including CMOS image sensors and ToF sensors” to assist the company in these goals. But why create a car to show that?
According to Richard Aucock, from Motoring Research, Sony corporation president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida stepped out of the driving prototype at the company’s CES stage and said this:
“I believe the next mega-trend will be mobility.”
Sony already sells infotainment and conventional sound systems, screens, components, sensors, cameras, and electronics to the automotive industry. It usually uses regular production cars to showcase whatever it has to offer. There would be no sense in creating a running prototype if not to evaluate customer’s reactions to it.
Sony officially says it does not intend to produce this car, but it also mentions it uses a skateboard platform that could underpin SUVs, sedans, coupes, and MPVs, according to Aucock.
One thing the company forgot to highlight – probably not to feed the competition with info – is that it also produces batteries. Just like Panasonic, it apparently sees not only the potential to supply them, but also to sell them in a higher value package, with tires and a steering wheel.
It would not be the first time the company has played with the idea. In 2015, it said it had the intention to sell an electric car. In 2016, it announced targets for a high-capacity lithium-sulfur battery. It may also have an eye on solid-state cells. Why supply them when you can sell them yourself?
Sony has a reputation for excellent finishing and top quality in its products. Electric cars are much less complex to develop, despite what the competition has presented so far to face Tesla products.
With the right partners, such as Magna and Bosch, it could transfer that to the “next mega-trend” and make a profit. Will its competitors, like Panasonic and Toshiba, think likewise? We’ll see in future CES editions.
Sony Highlights its Evolution as a “Creative Entertainment Company with a Solid Foundation of Technology” at CES 2020
Sony seeks to deliver products, content, and services that resonate with people and affect a positive impact on society, based on its Purpose to "fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology." Sony Corporation President & CEO Kenichiro Yoshida spoke at the Sony press conference held ahead of the exhibition's public opening, stating that "Creativity is a powerful driving force that moves Sony forward. When it is combined with our technology, it is unstoppable." He then proceeded to introduce Sony's latest offerings and new developments from our electronics and entertainment businesses.
Next to take the stage was Jim Ryan (President and CEO, Sony Interactive Entertainment), who announced that PlayStation®4 has now cumulatively sold through more than 106 million*1 units worldwide, and that PlayStation™Network had reached 103 million*2 monthly active users. He then discussed the cutting-edge technology and features of PlayStation®5, slated to launch this holiday season, and unveiled the new logo design for the first time ever. "Our promise to the 100 million strong PlayStation® community is to offer the biggest and best in content, and to deliver unique experiences to gamers with unprecedented speed."
In live sports production, Sony presented the recent achievement of a joint proof of concept trial with NBC Sports and Verizon at an American football game. David Mazza (CTO, NBC Sports Group), took the stage and noted the expectations for Sony's technologies on media production for the broadcasts and wireless communication technology, which brings new possibilities to the live sports production workflow.
Furthermore, Yoshida stated that, "It's not an exaggeration to say that Mobile has been the mega-trend of the last decade. I believe the next mega-trend will be mobility," as he unveiled a prototype vehicle incorporating imaging and sensing technologies that contribute to safer and more reliable autonomous driving, and an array of highly-advanced electronics technologies that together deliver an unprecedented in-car entertainment experience. He concluded his presentation by stating that in addition to striving to contribute to society, "Sony will continue to evolve as a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology."
*1:Estimated figures based on SIE research as of 31 Dec 2019.
*2:Estimated figures based on SIE research in Dec 2019.
The full press conference can be streamed here.
Main Products and Prototypes Being Showcased
The Sony booth introduces a range of initiatives which harness the power of creativity and technology, under the theme of sustainable value creation that all of Sony's diverse businesses strive to achieve as part of its corporate direction of "getting closer to people." Exhibits range from technologies Sony is pursuing in order to get closer to creators and users by enabling them to deliver `reality,' such as high resolution video and sound in three dimensional space, in addition to `real-time' technologies that support every stage of the production process through to the viewing experience, as well as various combinations of these technologies.
Contributing to Society Through the Delivery of Safety and Reliability
Sony will demonstrate the contribution it intends to make to realize a highly advanced autonomous driving society, and the new emotional experiences it aims to deliver in the world of mobility.
Evolutions in Imaging and Sensing Technologies in the Realm of Mobility
"Safety Cocoon" represents a safe-zone concept in which supports vehicle safety in various daily driving situations by detecting 360 degrees around the vehicle, enabling early preparation to help evade risk. At the Sony booth, visitors can experience advancements in the Sony imaging and sensing technologies listed below, which support the realization of this concept. Through Sony's imaging and sensing technologies, which are beyond the human eye, we aim to contribute to the achievement of safe, reliable, and comfortable mobility experiences.
- CMOS image sensors which achieve high sensitivity, high definition and high dynamic range while also suppressing LED flicker*3 to deliver accurate object recognition, even in situations where conventionally detection has been difficult.
- Solid State LiDAR which uses highly accurate distance measurement to gain a precise 3D grasp of real-life spaces.
- Sensor fusion technology which merges the capabilities of sensors of varied attributes to enable early and accurate recognition, even in challenging conditions such as fog, backlight and night-time driving.
- Time-of-Flight (ToF) in-cabin sensing solutions use distance measurement technology to detect and recognize people and objects inside the car. This information is used to provide an optimized infotainment system with intuitive interfaces such as gesture control and improve safety and comfort inside the vehicle.
New Mobility Proposals Pursuing Comfort and Entertainment
Sony's efforts in the area of mobility - such as pursuing safety, reliability, comfort and entertainment - are being positioned as a new initiative, named "VISION-S." The first prototype vehicle to result from "VISION-S" will be showcased at the Sony booth. This prototype incorporates Sony's imaging and sensing technologies, as well as on-board software regulated using Sony's AI, telecommunication and cloud technologies, in order to continuously update and evolve its features.
A total of 33 sensors including CMOS image sensors and ToF sensors are embedded within the vehicle, in order to detect and recognize people and objects inside and outside the car, and provide highly advanced driving support. Sony's "360 Reality Audio" provides a deep and immersive audio experience through speakers built into each seat to encapsulate passengers in sound. The front seats face a panoramic screen on which rich and diverse content can be enjoyed through an intuitive user interface. Sony will continue to combine its advanced technologies to deliver greater safety and reliability, while also striving to inspire new emotion through revolutionary in-car entertainment experiences.
*3:Fluctuations that occur in LED light and signal transmission.
Helping Creators Realize Their Dreams
Sony is bringing about a technological revolution at every stage of the creative process, from production to when content reaches audiences, in order to further inspire creators and help them deliver their work to viewers and listeners.
Transforming Live Sports Broadcasting through Technology
Advances in 5G and AI technologies are bringing new artistic and video production workflow possibilities to creators.
5G Proof of Concept TrialSony conducted a proof of concept trial in December 2019, by capturing video of a live American football game with a 5G-connected camera, showing how 5G can allow for more creative and untethered camerawork while also reducing set-up time and costs. Visitors to the Sony booth will be able to see a video introducing this initiative, and also the equipment used during the trial including Sony's PXW-Z450 shoulder camcorder, Xperia 5G mmWave device that enables high-speed data uplink, and a prototype transmitter box that encodes and transmits high-quality video in real-time.
AI-based Real-time Video AnalyticsSony is also proposing new video experiences that further enhance the excitement of sports through our AI-based real-time video analytics technology. The booth will feature a table tennis demonstration by athletes, and the game will be captured on multiple devices including Sony's HDC-P50 POV system camera and the cameras with Sony's unique high-speed vision sensors. From the image, the athletes' postures and the flight path of the ball are instantly analyzed, and CG characters will mimic the movements based on estimations of the athletes' postures by deep learning technology. The booth will also exhibit a demo video showing the number of times the ball rotated by analyzing super-slow-motion video.
Empowering Creators' Imaginations through 3D Volumetric Visual Technology
3D Spatial Reality Display TechnologySony's unique Eye-sensing Light Field Display uses high-speed vision sensors and face recognition algorithms to enable super high precision spatial reality experience not found in conventional naked-eye 3D displays. It can be easily applied to VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) content, providing a versatile volumetric content creation environment to creators in various fields such as entertainment and product design.
Virtual Production Technology using 3D Volumetric CaptureThe Sony booth also features a virtual production set which transforms the way motion pictures and TV shows are made. The set has been captured from the Sony Pictures studio lot as photo-realistic volumetric data and is shown as a background image on a Crystal LED display. The background changes in real time with the movement of the camera, ensuring the final image has the proper perspective and depth. Virtual production empowers the creator's imagination by allowing directors, cinematographers, and actors to experience the scene as if they are really there, and provides creative flexibility where film production can take place at any time.
New Content Creation Environment Provided by Large Screen, High Resolution Display System
As TVs continue to trend towards larger screens, and more content with higher resolutions and in HDR (Higher Dynamic Range) is created, there is a corresponding need for comprehensive, accurate evaluation of content on the professional monitors used by creators. In a professional editing room setup with a 4K x 2K Crystal LED display system (220 inch), visitors will be able to experience ongoing and future developments in the production environment for movies, TV shows, and online content.
Enriching People's Hearts Through the Delivery of Emotional Experiences
Sony is showcasing new products featuring the proprietary technologies previously found in its BRAVIA® flagship MASTER Series. The 8K LCD TV "Z8H" series brings the stunning picture quality delivered by its best-in-class Picture Processor X1™ Ultimate as well as Sony's unique new "Frame Tweeter," which delivers a Sound-from-Picture Reality™ experience while maintaining a slim design. Additionally, the OLED TV "A8H" series newly features X-Motion Clarity, which draws fast-moving images clearly, while maintaining brightness. We offer an experience of high picture and sound quality that makes a difference on a large screen.
Additionally, Sony announced the expansion of devices compatible with 360 Reality Audio, the immersive audio experience that became initially available in North America and Europe in fall 2019. At the Sony booth, visitors can experience 360 Reality Audio by combining headphones and smartphones with participating streaming services*4, while a reference exhibit demonstrates how 360 Reality Audio can be enjoyed through a sound bar and a wireless speaker for an experience that feels just like being in a space with artists.