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Qualcomm improves smartphone camera tech expontentially

Qualcomm isn't just one of the 'smartphone guys', they're an industry leader in smartphone cameras, too

By Anthony Garreffa from Aug 15, 2017 @ 6:00 CDT

Before all of the hoopla of AMD's Ryzen Tech Day and the Radoen RX Vega unveiling, and then SIGGRAPH 2017 itself, I had a very important briefing with Qualcomm.

I knew to expect something impressive as always, but the message that Qualcomm pushed out was loud and clear: they're not just the "smartphone guys", they're the... well, everything guys.

Qualcomm briefed us on their new Spectra Module Program, which seems like an incredible leap in technology for something that's just a small part of the expansive smartphone experience.


Qualcomm's new Spectra Module Program features a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 camera module, backed up by Qualcomm Clear Sight (a fusion of Mono + Bayer) and optical zoom with wide-angle and telescopic 2x abilities.


The new parts of the Spectra Module Program in 2017 feature iris authentication for always-on security, entry-level compute vision technology for passive depth sensing, and premium computer vision for active depth sensing.


The biggest take away that I had from Qualcomm is the Multi-Frame Noise Reduction technology, which is quite frankly: f***ing amazing. Qualcomm takes multiple shots of the image or video, and then with MCTF (motion compensated temporal filtering), they can improve the quality by leaps and bounds.


We have an example of that above, but I can't wait to get it in my hands and shoot some videos at night to see it with my own eyes. It's almost unbelievable, but I believe Qualcomm - they continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in smartphone technology.


So Much New Tech!!

Qualcomm made a big point about not just being the "smartphone guys" and that the smartphone camera business is huge, and they're right. Name the one thing that everyone uses their smartphone as: a personal digital camera, in their pocket, that is for the most part - better than a larger camera. The one in your pocket is always there, the same can't be said for a large DSLR.


Qualcomm almost went back to the drawing board for the Spectra Camera Module, with a completely new driver architecture, and improved programmability, leading to a customized pipeline with customized algorithms.

The company made adjustments to this pipeline that allow OEMs to play around with it, and using some of their own IP inside of it to improve upon, or add features. Partners might want to re-write some of the camera module code, and they're free to do so - as well as creating custom camera interfaces for Android.


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