Sony invests in Raspberry Pi to strengthen edge AI offering

Close-up detail of the Raspberry Pi Foundation logo on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B single-board computer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sony’s semiconductor arm has announced a “strategic investment” in Raspberry Pi - a move that will see users given access to its edge AI platform Aitrios.

The minority stake investment, details of which remain undisclosed, “cements the relationship” between the two companies and will provide a development platform for Sony Semiconductor Solutions’ (SSS) AI devices to Raspberry Pi’s global user base, the company said. 

This means Raspberry Pi users will be able to leverage Sony’s Aitrios edge computing AI platform to develop a range of AI-based visual sensing applications. 

 “Our goal is to provide new value to a variety of industries and support them in solving issues using our innovative edge AI sensing technology built around image sensors,” said Terushi Shimizu, president and CEO at SSS. 

 “We are very pleased to be partnering with Raspberry Pi to bring out Aitrios platform - which supports the development of unique and diverse solutions utilizing our edge AI devices - to the Raspberry Pi user and developer community, and provide a unique development experience.” 

Eben Upton, CEO at Raspberry Pi, said the partnership builds on longstanding ties between the two companies and will help Sony embed AI products within the firm’s developer ecosystem.  

“This transaction will allow us to expand our partnership, bringing Sony Semiconductor Solutions’ line of AI products to the Raspberry Pi ecosystem, and helping users to build exciting new machine learning (ML) applications at the edge,” he said in a statement. 

What is Sony Aitrios?

Aitrios is an edge AI sensing platform developed by Sony and launched in 2021. 


Image of digital eye

(Image credit: Dell)

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The platform runs directly on chips, which Sony says provides users with a range of benefits in developing machine learning and AI applications and creates “synergy between edge and cloud”. 

Since its launch, Sony has positioned Aitrios as a go-to platform for developers creating AI camera-driven and edge sensing solutions. 

Aitrios use-cases cited by Sony span a number of sectors, including surveillance, security, retail, logistics, and manufacturing. 

The platform could be used to develop solutions aimed at detecting vehicle license plates or monitoring footfall in retail venues, for example. 

Capitalizing on AI hype

This partnership with Raspberry Pi could signal a move from Sony to capitalize on recent excitement in the AI space. 

Developers have already been experimenting with generative AI systems such as ChatGPT on Raspberry Pi 4 devices, for example. 

Long-term, Upton told CNBC that he envisages the partnership helping young developers learn how computers work in their modern form, rather than how they did 30 years ago. 

He added that Raspberry Pi has been used for ML development for some time now, and that the Sony partnership will allow this to evolve further.

The Raspberry Pi 4 device is largely compatible with several AI and ML frameworks, such as TensorFlow or PyTorch, making it a go-to device for both hobbyists and students experimenting with ML applications. 

However, when speaking to CNBC Upton noted that while the company has traditionally appealed to hobbyists, its popularity among enterprises has been growing steadily. 

Around 70% of its sales now come from commercial clients looking to embed products within consumer devices or general operations. 

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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