Sony Engineer Awarded Medal with Purple Ribbon
in 2020 Spring Conferment

Taku Umebayashi

Taku Umebayashi from Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation received a Medal with Purple Ribbon, one of the medals of honor granted by the Japanese government. He became the 10th person who received this remarkable honor in Sony Group’s history, and the fourth in the Heisei and Reiwa era following Nobutoshi Kihara, who received the medal in the spring of 1990, Heitaro Nakajima in the spring of 1993 (the then president of Aiwa Co., Ltd) and Toshiyuki Kashiwagi in the spring of 2016.

The Medal with Purple Ribbon is awarded in recognition of outstanding inventions and discoveries in science and technology and excellent achievements in the academic, sports and arts fields. It is conferred twice a year in the spring and autumn. Umebayashi received this medal of honor for his accomplishments in the development of the stacked CMOS image sensor structure. For this development, he received the Prime Minister’s Award of the National Commendation for Invention for fiscal 2016 (awarded by Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation). On the recommendation of the institute, he was given the Awards for Science and Technology (Development Category) of the Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in fiscal 2018. The institute also endorsed Umebayashi for the Medal with Purple Ribbon awarded this time.

Left: The certificate of the Medal with Purple Ribbon
Right: The patent certificate and the Medal

The front side (left) and the back side (right) of the Medal

First of all, I would like to say that I am very delighted to have received such a renowned medal. I would not have been able to receive it without the cooperation of many fellow workers, so I would like to once again extend my appreciation to them here. I believe I was granted the medal on behalf of Sony.

The technology for which I received the medal is the stacked CMOS image sensor. This structure came to my mind when I was first assigned to the image sensor section in 2008. Loaded with various functions, the sensor has a structure that is compact and suitable for mass production. I presented the idea directly to the boss and received a green light to proceed with the development.

The development of the sensor thus started on impulse. It was put on the market and ended up being well received, but I remember having a very hard time for the first two years because I was always asked whether it would really sell. It took long to establish evidence and the development project had not progressed so well. However, I think it was very good that I took on a challenge that nobody had attempted before and eventually made a product that had not existed in the world. I believe Sony’s corporate culture, which allowed me to take on such a challenge provides a good organizational climate, and served as a driving force behind my reception of the medal.

I was given the medal for this idea, as I was the first to protect it with a patent. Thinking of this, I believe every engineer has a chance to receive such an honor if they write a good patent and attempt to put it into practice. I hope they will take on new challenges and keep creating new things.

I hope there will be many Sony engineers who will be bestowed such a medal of honor as I was granted.