Sony is breaking new ground in the ongoing NFTs and content authenticity saga. At CES 2024 in Las Vegas, the conglomerate known for its electronics, gaming, and entertainment products has announced the development of an in-camera digital signature technology, which effectively creates a “birth certificate” for images captured with their devices, thereby verifying the origin of the content. While it might not strictly be termed an NFT, it resembles the core concept of these nonfungible tokens.
“Helping creators navigate opportunities while protecting the authenticity of their work is a priority. We’re collaborating with the Associated Press and other industry leaders to create a digital birth certificate for images shot on our cameras. This will validate the origin of their content and help safeguard facts and combat misinformation,” said Neal Manowitz, president and COO at Sony Electronics, during the Sony press conference.
The technology, designed to be integrated into the camera’s hardware — starting with the new Alpha 9 Mark III camera — generates a machine-based digital signature when an image is captured. This creates a unique identifier that can be tracked and verified, much like the blockchain technology underpinning NFTs. The aim is to allow professionals, particularly in journalism, to safeguard the authenticity of their content and to give news agencies an added layer of security in the fight against the distribution of manipulated images.
“While the rapid evolution of generative AI (Artificial Intelligence) brings new possibilities for creative expression, it has also led to growing concern about the impact of altered or manipulated imagery in journalism,” said Manowitz. “The dissemination of false information and images has real-world social impact that brings harm not only to our photojournalist and news agency partners but to society as a whole.”
The company has shown that the tool and technology can work to help show that photos are authentic and unaltered and announced that its in-camera signature and C2PA authentication will be released in a firmware update for the Alpha 9 III, Alpha 1, and Alpha 7S III models later this year. While it remains to be seen how industry professionals and the broader public will receive this technology, it represents a significant step forward in the battle against image manipulation and spreading misinformation. As I’ve discussed before, that might be a good thing, because the current situation scares the crap out of me.
So, while Sony hasn’t literally launched an in-camera NFT, they’ve certainly created a system that mirrors the core functionality of an NFT, proving ownership and authenticity in the digital space. In a world where deepfakes and image manipulation are becoming increasingly sophisticated, this could be a game-changing tool in the fight against digital deceit.