Better phone cameras ahead as chipmaking-giant Qualcomm develops advanced camera technology

Bill Rogers
August 17, 2017

That's what Qualcomm is trying to do with its chipsets, so watch out for this.

The low-power, high-performance motion tracking capabilities of the Qualcomm Spectra ISP, in addition to optimized simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, are created to support new extended reality (XR) use cases for virtual and augmented reality applications that require SLAM.

Android is the first operating system that will be supported by Qualcomm's second-generation Spectra Module Program in smartphones. Three new modules will be introduced to the program, including one dedicated to iris authentication and two depth sensing modules, one passive and one active.

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The Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy Note Fan Edition are some of the smartphones that are equipped with iris scanners. It sees depth sensing to be the next mission critical must have feature for smartphones.

This week, Qualcomm announced some of the features offered by the image signal processor going onto its next-gen chip for mobile devices. That means depth-sensing will be available to more modestly priced phones in 2018, just as dual rear cameras found their way into mid-tier and budget phones this year. Intel RealSense was featured in the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet and allowed the camera to adjust depth of field and focal points after the image had been capturing. The depth can be determined by calculating how far the object is. Spectra will compare the images from each and determine the depth of objects in the resulting photo, mimicking the way a human eye perceives depth. The active depth sensing module comes with an infrared illuminator and camera. A device will then be able to calculate and produce an incredibly accurate 3D image of the scene. The video was shot from above, but it managed to accurately the measure the depth of the hands of a person playing the piano. The difference is that Spectra ISP is capable of operating successfully in a smaller space, whereas Intel's RealSense has less success in phones and is only successful in Windows PCs and laptops.

Qualcomm believes that depth sensing with high resolution and high accuracy camera can advance the image quality, security, XR experience as well as head tracking.

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