Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) is reported to have acquired chip maker Altair Semiconductor Ltd. in a deal worth $212 million as it aims to carve out a niche in the field of smart connected devices.
Altair that operates out of Hod Hasharon in Israel has considerable expertise in the field of chips and related software that conforms to LTE 4G cellular standards. The deal does make sense for Sony as it aims to leverage on Altair’s chip business to design the next generation of smart sensing devices that will also benefit from Sony’s own expertise in the field of image sensors and sensing technologies such as Global Navigation Satellite System or GNSS.
Chips sourced from Altair can be used to connect systems as diverse as security devices, power meters and even cars to connect to the Web. This makes for the ideal scenario that has come to be collectively known as the Internet of Things.
With Altair chips being LTE compliant can be considered as an added advantage since LTE is being seen as the ideal cellular technology relevant for IoT. Towards that, cellular operators too are gearing up to support IoT with Verizon already announcing the availability of chips for IoT that would connect to its LTE network in the US.
Sony had earlier acquired Brussels-based company Softkinetic Systems that deals with range image sensor technology. The said tech uses the time-of-flight (ToF) range method to estimate the exact distance an object is located at. Sony will be using the technology for developing sensing-related devices.
Sony, on its part, is increasingly being seen to shift its focus away from the consumer electronics division that it once dominated the world over to other areas as diverse as video games, movies and image sensors. The plan seems to be working with the company already back in black again.
Earlier, Sony exited the personal computing segment that was once epitomised by the Vaio range of laptops. Sony has also revised its television business with the focus now almost entirely in the high-end Ultra-HD segment. There has also been a talk of it exiting its smartphone business as well that has been incurring heavy losses though nothing concrete has emerged on that as yet.
In light of the above developments, Sony’s move to invest more in the chipset industry can be considered a smart move in view of the ongoing trend to bring more gadgets under the ambit of being smart. Cellular chips will be at the core of such self-communicating devices and Sony is already positioning itself to tackle the growing demand.