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On Thursday, November 2, 2023, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) announced that it has entered into an agreement with a UK-based company, iSIZE, which specializes in deep learning, for video delivery. The terms of the agreement and how much Sony splashed on the acquisition were not disclosed due to “contractual commitments”.

Sony Acquires UK-Based Deep Learning Specialist iSIZE For Video Delivery

According to Ueli Gallizzi, the SVP of Future Technology Group, “iSize builds AI-powered solutions to deliver bitrate savings and quality improvement for the media and entertainment industry”.

Sony wants to deploy iSIZE’s machine learning expertise for its “R&D efforts” and their “video and streaming services”. The Japanese company has intensified its push for cloud gaming to rival Microsoft’s cloud gaming services.

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Sony recently launched its cloud gaming for PS+ Premium subscribers. The service allows them to stream PlayStation 5 games, eliminating the need for players to install the games. By collaborating with iSIZE, Sony will hope to offer superior streaming service in terms of lower bitrate and better visual fidelity.

For a long time, the only way that PlayStation owners could stream games was by using the console. Microsoft has been ahead in this regard because the company uses dedicated servers to offer streaming services which makes it accessible to even those that don’t own an Xbox.

Sony Acquires UK-Based Deep Learning Specialist iSIZE For Video Delivery

With Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, it was only a matter of time before Sony responded with a similar massive acquisition that will help it to stay in competition against its closest rival. Although there have been speculations that Sony’s response will happen soon, the acquisition of iSIZE is unlikely the type of response many hope to see.

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Streaming is considered the future of video games and was one of the reasons why Microsoft’s $70 billion acquisition of Activision dragged on for months. Regulators opposed the deal for a long time saying it would give Microsoft an unfair advantage in cloud gaming.

iSIZE’s experience that would be beneficial to Sony

Sony Acquires UK-Based Deep Learning Specialist iSIZE For Video Delivery

“iSIZE has a team of talented engineers and technical experts who have developed a suite of software solutions to optimize video,” Gallizzi said. “For example, the company built an AI-based perceptual preprocessing solution that allows conventional, third-party encoders to produce higher quality video at a significantly lower bitrate.”

iSIZE was founded in 2016 by Sergio Grce (CEO and founder) and Yiannis Andreopoulos (CTO and co-founder). The company offers three proprietary video solutions namely BitSave, BitClear, and BitGen. While these products are all revolutionary, BitSave will be particularly useful for achieving Sony’s streaming goals.

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BitSave is available as a SaaS platform and for on-premise use. It is deployed as an add-on feature to regular video encoding pipelines (AVI, HEVC, and AVC). What it does is reduce “encoding bitrates by up to 40% without compromising perceptual video quality”.

What is most fascinating about BitSave is that it doesn’t require the client to change their device or make any other adjustments, neither does it alter the streaming process. Due to the lower bitrate, BitSave helps the client to save substantially on bandwidth, its associated cost, and energy for video-on-demand and streaming services.

“iSIZE is the first company to offer bolt-on and backward-compatible precoding solutions that allow video content to be sent and received at far lower transfer rates without any loss of quality” the company explained on its website.

Sony Acquires UK-Based Deep Learning Specialist iSIZE For Video Delivery

BitClear is an “AI-based video processing technology that removes compression artifacts from user-generated or heavily-compressed content. BitGen, on the other hand, is “the first of a kind live generative photorealistic 2D/3D avatar technology”.

It will be interesting to see how Sony will leverage iSIZE’s suite of solutions to better compete in the burgeoning cloud streaming and online gaming industry.

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