Sony acquires SoftKinetic Systems for 3D image sensors
Sony's golden years are behind it as the brand name no longer holds as much weight as it used to. A select few of the company's divisions, however, are still performing quite well, including its division responsible for cameras and image sensors. Today, the Japanese manufacturer announced that it has acquired SoftKinetic Systems to bolster its research and development into future image sensors. This means that SoftKinetic will become a complete subsidiary of Sony.
SoftKinetic specializes in 3D imaging Time-of-Flight (TOF) CMOS sensors and related software for cameras. For example, the technology allows for gesture-based controls similar to the Microsoft Kinect and can recognize 3-dimensional body and limbs in real-time. The hardware utilizes lasers to scan surroundings and calculate the time it takes before the laser returns to the sensor. This contrasts current 3D cameras, such as those used for Intel RealSense, which require at least two separate sensors to distinguish depth.
Sony promises that the acquisition will directly benefit virtual reality projects such as Playstation VR, though it's not farfetched to believe that the technology will eventually make its way into tablets and smartphones. Sony Exmor sensors are already found on a large number of flagship smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, LG G4, and upcoming Nexus 5X and 6P.