The companies that populate the inside of our devices never get quite the attention that the manufacturers of the smartphones, tablets and wearables manage, but they do offer the best glimpse at the future, so it’s always worth keeping a careful eye on their releases.
Qualcomm today provided the Zeroth platform, which they are calling their “first cognitive capable platform.” The idea is that a device will recognize what you need before you even ask for it by learning from past behavior and interpreting the context of the world around you. This probably sounds familiar, because Motorola has been pushing a similar narrative with the Moto X line in particular, but Zeroth is an even more ambitious attempt at this concept.
While the platform will first appear in smartphones and tablets, the clear vision is that this extends into wearables, automotive, the home and beyond. This is still early days for the platform, but several interesting demos are available.
One such demo is a camera app that not only identifies that there is a face in a photo in real time, but is also able to quickly identify the person. To be clear, the person had been previously entered into the system, but this is all happening on device and with limited lag. The camera can also automatically attempt to recognize other pieces of the scene, allowing you to later search your photos for trees, beaches, and more if you’re hunting for that one photo from your trip that you loved. Another camera demo shows handwriting captured and rapidly converted to text, all on device.
Qualcomm indicated that some of the Zeroth platform could be brought to current smartphones via a software update, but the full capabilities will have to wait for Snapdragon 820 that’s due to hit manufacturers in the second half of 2015, meaning consumers probably won’t see it in devices until early 2016. Other details on the 820 are sparse, with Qualcomm merely saying that it is designed using a FinFET process and would feature their new 64-bit, custom Kryo CPU.
The final bit of news from Qualcomm was on new fingerprint scanning technology, Snapdragon Sense ID. Interestingly, this sensor relies on sound waves rather than a capacitive touch sensor to identify your fingerprint. This creates a three-dimensional image of the fingerprint, and with that the sensor is able to identify the user even if they have condensation or lotion on their fingers, something that would confound a capacitive scanner. Another benefit of the Sense ID tech is that it is far less limited in its placement on the device because it can scan through glass, aluminum, stainless steel, sapphire and plastics.