7-Eleven Japan gets Sony AI vision detection for buyer insights

Edge AI vision detection is one of the hottest areas in technology, and now Sony Semiconductor Solutions has announced it is working with 7-Eleven and other retailers in Japan to improve insights about customer interactions with digital signage and in-store advertising.

Edge devices rely on on-sensor AI processing to automatically determine when customers see digital signage in about 500 stores in Japan. The system counts how many people have paused to view the signs and measures the percentage of total customers.

AI on the sensor collects datapoints including the number of customers entering the detection area, whether they saw the signage and those who viewed the sign and for how long. An important concern to retailers is that system doesn’t output image data that would identify persons-- to preserve privacy.

The Sony system includes an IMX500 intelligent vision sensor. Metadata is sent back to the cloud where it is combined with content streaming and purchasing data to help in analyze advertising effectiveness.  The metadata is lightweight and minimizes the amount of data transmitted to the cloud.

The IMX500 uses proprietary technology with pixel chip and logic chip stacked to enable the process from imaging to AI inference done on a single sensor. The IMX500 can be used in edge devices of about 2.2 x 1.5 x 1.4 inches, which is considered valuable in tight convenience stores.

The AITRIOS edge AI-sensing platform is used to build and operate the in-store system. In the retail examples in Japan it was installed on Microsoft Azure cloud. Sony’s AITRIOS is more generally for AI sensing as well as AI development and operation.

7-Eleven Japan operates about 21,000 outlets in Japan and serves about 20 million visitors daily.

Using the Sony system in stores is “like having a crystal ball that reveals the hidden patterns of consumer behavior,” said Katsuki Sugiura, general manager for digital services and retail media promotion, in a video describing the technology.   “The visibility is a game changer.”

Other officials at 7-Eleven said the small size of the IMX500 and its sensor box made it easy to install in stores, while they also appreciated having control over their cloud tenancy with Azure and the AITRIOS platform.

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