Qualcomm adds VR, AR capabilities to mobile camera tech

Alyssa Bailey
August 17, 2017

Qualcomm, the leading SoC manufacturer for Android platform announces all new image sensing processor, code named 2nd Gen spectra ISP is here. Qualcomm say their Spectra product "paves the way for future image quality and computer vision innovations in upcoming Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM Mobile Platforms".

The additions allow improved face detection and simultaneous localisation and mapping that enable devices to create a map of its surroundings and orient itself in real-time.

The new 2 generation Spectra ISP can advance computational photography, video recording and computer vision applications that require accurate motion tracking.

Forthcoming Android phones are widely expected to embrace revolutionary depth-sensing and 3D camera capabilities in order to replace the ageing fingerprint scanner tech.

The new camera technology also has potential uses outside of taking photos with the improved depth sensing technology also potentially able to be utilized by augmented reality applications, or as Qualcomm describes it - "extended reality".

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Iris scanning is becoming an important feature on mobile devices, and not just as a way to augment other security features like fingerprint unlocking.

Qualcomm claims that they will succeed using Spectra ISP in Android phone camera technology because "thermal overhead on Intel RealSense is a barrier to entry for smartphones". Of these, two are designed specifically to boost the camera's depth sensing prowess. An IR sensor on the phone can see the dots and accurately record their distance. By working with companies like Sony for image sensors and integration on modules, Qualcomm has pre-qualified sets of hardware and provides calibration profiles for its licensees to select from and build into upcoming devices. It will be interesting to see whether they match up to what Apple has to offer with the iPhone 8 this year.

Additionally, Qualcomm is working on a front-facing iris-scanning and facial-recognition camera.

Of course, it's the active depth sensor we're interested in. It first put depth-sensing capabilities into the Snapdragon 820 system-on-a-chip back in 2015, and improved it in the 835 used in the Samsung Galaxy S8, HTC U11 and OnePlus 5.

Qualcomm's technology will bring Kinect-like functionality to smartphones.

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