Qualcomm adds VR, AR capabilities to mobile camera tech

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Qualcomm is expanding its camera offering for smartphones with capabilities designed for augmented and virtual reality applications.

The chipmaker has launched the second generation of its Spectra image signal processor (ISP), the technology that dictates the speed which a camera can focus and take a photo and the image quality.

The updated platform, expected to feature in the next Snapdragon chipset suite, improves image quality and adds new capabilities such as machine learning.

It features three new camera modules, including an iris authentication module, a passive depth sensing module and an active depth sensing module.

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. Qualcomm said this will support new augmented and virtual reality technologies.

The new generation of the ISP also features image stabilisation to reduce vibrations and technology to predict and compensate for a camera’s motion when recording, both of which will improve video capture.

The company said more capabilities would be added to the platform later this year.

“Whether used for computational photography, video recording, or for computer vision applications that require accurate motion tracking, it’s clear that power efficient camera image signal processing has become more important for the next generation of mobile user experiences,” said Tim Leland, VP of Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

“Our breakthrough advancements in visual quality and computer vision, combined with our family of integrated Qualcomm Spectra ISPs for Snapdragon, are designed to support an ecosystem of cutting edge mobile applications for our customers.”

Qualcomm launched a range of other new sensor technologies, as well as the Snapdragon 450 Mobile Platform, at Mobile World Congress Shanghai in June.

The chipmaker is currently embroiled in a patent war with device maker Apple.