Sony has revealed it’s developing “in-camera authenticity technology” as part of a newfound effort to combat misinformation.
The tech conglomerate explains in an announcement post that “fake and manipulated images” have become a growing threat with the advent of generative AI, and it's one that could erode away the public’s trust in official news sources. To address this problem, upcoming Sony cameras will have a digital signature feature giving these devices the ability to create a “birth certificate for images”. It’s unknown what these supposed “birth certificates” will have – the company is rather light on the details.
Presumably, the photographic files will have a slew of metadata describing things like when the picture was taken, if any edits have been made since it was first shot, and what camera model was used. Sony says the main goal here is to help professionals “safeguard the authenticity of their work” plus give news agencies a tool against falsified pictures.
During the latest round of development, Sony partnered up with The Associated Press (AP), an American nonprofit news organization, and Camera Bits, the company behind image sorting software Photo Mechanic. Together, all three tested the authenticity tech in an effort to see how well it works out in the "field".
What that entailed is unfortunately unknown. Again, Sony didn’t provide any details on the matter other than the testing was completed last month. If we had to take a wild guess, maybe some AP journalists took a few cameras with the feature out on the job.
What is known is that the digital signature upgrade will arrive in Spring 2024 through a global firmware update for the Alpha 9 III, Alpha 1, and Alpha 7S III cameras. We reached out to Sony with several questions like what the field test looked like, as well as what the signature houses. This story will be updated if we hear back.
Possible new trend
It’s important to note Sony is not a trailblazer in this instance. Back in late October, Leica unveiled its own “anti-AI” camera: the M11-P rangefinder. Every photograph it takes is imprinted with Content Credential label attaching information like the date it was taken and what edits (if any) have been made. It is, however, incredibly expensive as the price tag currently sits at over $9,000. The high cost obviously limits the widespread availability of anti-AI tech.
Fortunately, Sony’s Alpha trio each cost significantly less than Leica’s model, meaning more people will be able to authenticate their work. Keep in the mind the digital signature patch is free. With Sony lowering the barrier, we hope to see other companies roll out their own version anti-AI software to more mid-range cameras, and maybe even smartphones.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.