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Qualcomm’s new vision chips can power sports cams, security cameras, and robots

Qualcomm’s new vision chips can power sports cams, security cameras, and robots

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Qualcomm is introducing a new line of chips today that are custom-made for smart cameras. The new line is called the Vision Intelligence Platform, and it’s meant to get AI features, extreme low-light image processing, image stabilization, and computer vision abilities into more cameras — and to do it better than a repurposed smartphone chip could.

The chips are meant for pretty much any camera that can make use of intensive processing features: sports cameras, security cameras, 360-degree cameras, and even robots (say, something like a Roomba) that need to navigate, among others. The chips support 4K video, multiple video streams at lower resolutions, 360-video stitching, WQHD displays, obstacle avoidance, and the creation of video highlight reels for action cameras.

Qualcomm already offers repurposed Snapdragon chips for cameras

It’ll be up to hardware manufacturers who use these chips to take advantage of those features and actually build them out. But Qualcomm’s goal is to make it easier for hardware companies to implement them, and to allow them to be implemented better than they could with other chips. Because there’s dedicated hardware for a lot of these features, Qualcomm says they’ll use up less power while performing better than they would if running on a more general purpose chip.

The first two chips in the line, the QCS605 and QCS603 (no relation to the Snapdragon 600 series), are designed for Wi-Fi cameras, since neither has an LTE radio. The 605 supports 4K video at 60 fps, and the 603 supports 4K video at 30 fps.

This isn’t Qualcomm’s first attempt at offering chips for smart cameras. It’s done this in the past, but it’s always used repurposed Snapdragon chips before — one ended up in the Nest Cam IQ, for instance. This is the first time Qualcomm has offered chips specifically built for smart cameras, though, and that means future generations of these products could start to advance a bit faster.

Qualcomm has already begun sampling out the 605 chips to hardware partners and expects products using them to come out in the second half of the year.