Gone are the days when dual cameras would come under people’s preference list while buying a phone!

Qualcomm is getting ready to define the next generation of cameras for the Android ecosystem by adding three new camera modules to its Spectra Module Program. This will allow the device manufacturers to select ready-made parts for their products.

The three modules are the Iris authentication front-facing option, an entry level computer vision setup and a premium computer vision kit. The one that fetch our interests is the premium computer vision kit. It is capable of active depth sensing, using an infrared illuminator, IR camera and a 16-megapixel RGB camera (or 20-MP, depending on the configuration).

The illuminator fires a light which creates a dot pattern and is followed by the IR camera searching and reading the pattern. By calculating the distance between the points and the dots that warp over a subject, the system can decipher how far the object is! Since this technology uses the infrared light, it is capable of working  efficiently in the dark as well.

During a recent briefing in New York, Qualcomm representatives displayed a video of the above setup and it was amazing how despite of shooting from above, the system was able to display a profile of a person’s hand while playing the piano. 


The module seems very precise as it uses more than 10,000 points of depth and can discern up to 0.125 mm between the dots. “Depth sensing is going to be mission critical going forward”, Philip-James Jacobowitz, Qualcomm’s product marketing lead for camera and computer vision,  told Engadget.

It has numerous useful applications out of which one is creating artificial depth of field in images. It helps in facial detection, recognition and authentication, 3D object reconstruction and localisation and mapping.

Similar to it is the Intel’s RealSense, which is commonly used in laptops. But according to Qualcomm’s understanding, the thermal overhead on Intel RealSense is a ‘barrier to entry’ for smartphones, which implies that it runs too hot to work well in a handset.

The other two modules do not appear as useful as the latter. The entry-level computer-vision option allows for similar features at lower price but it consumes more power than the premium kit.

According to Qualcomm, the iris authentication module can read your eyes even when you have sunglasses on. There’s no word yet on when we can expect the new cameras to ship inside devices, but Qualcomm says the new modules and ISPs “are expected to be part of the next flagship Snapdragon Mobile Platform.”

Image Source – Google Images


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