Your phone may be smart today, but Qualcomm thinks it can and should be smarter, announcing a number of new technologies on Wednesday at its annual Uplinq developer conference. Smartphones that seamlessly log in to Wi-Fi networks while roaming and open mobile web pages even faster are just a few of the ideas that Qualcomm has, which are based around the company’s Snapdragon line of mobile chips. Here’s an overview of the company’s vision for smartphones:
Easily roam between wireless hotspots. One way to ease congestion on busy carrier networks is to offload mobile devices to Wi-Fi. That’s great but it’s not simple, since different hotspots have different logins, making it frustrating for consumers to connect. The Passpoint program, created by the Wi-Fi Alliance, removes the multiple login barrier and turns hotspots into roaming networks. Qualcomm is among the first chipmakers to participate in the Passpoint testing program, it announced today.
Take better pictures and deliver better sound. Qualcomm introduced a Snapdragon SDK for developers that will help mobile apps use certain chip functions. Examples include improved audio / visual capabilities including faster burst modes for cameras and surround sound audio capture. Thanks to other functionality built in to the Snapdragon chips, developers can also leverage more sensors, indoor location data and lower-power geo-fencing information in their apps. The advantage here is that app makers don’t have to make their software work with different bits of silicon, but can instead focus on the all-inclusive system-on-a-chip; one place for the computing, communication and location info needed in an app.
See and understand the world around them. Improved image recognition can help in certain types of apps, such as those geared towards shopping for physical products. Using a smartphone camera to take a product picture is easy, but getting a smartphone app to understand what it sees isn’t, unless you use a barcode or other identifier. Qualcomm’s Vuforia platform can help with object recognition by comparing photos with a database in the cloud, even one with more than million objects.
Tell apps what you like and where you are. Qualcomm Labs showed off its Gimbal context awareness SDK with libraries that Android or iOS developers can use to give their apps a variety of cool features. For example there is library that offers a low power way to sense where users are and target ads or services when they hit a specific area, one that senses a user’s likes and lets applications adapt based on the end user’s profile and learned interests, a privacy library that works with any of the Gimbal SDK elements so the user can see and manage what data they are sharing and more.
Communicate with your medical and personal health devices. People are wearing more gadgets designed to track their physical activity, their sleep or actual medical conditions. For those devices that use a standard radio technology such as Bluetooth Low Energy or Wi-Fi, Qualcomm has released a software development kit that will allow your phone to grab that data and put it on the company’s 2net biometric data platform. It also announced an application development challenge with $35,000 in prizes for folks who want to build new apps to take advantage of this data. The 2net SDK is available now for Android and will support Windows and iOS handsets in the future.
Load web pages faster. Qualcomm is now partnering with content delivery company, Akamai, to improve the mobile web experience. How? The two are working on new mobile device protocols to “improve page performance and promote greater bandwidth efficiency on mobile devices.” That’s a double win if it works out, as we’ll be able to browse the web quicker on our smartphones while also reducing the amount of wireless capacity and potentially battery life. In these days of tiered data plans, any time we can do more by using less wireless capacity, it’s a win all around for consumers, content providers and carriers alike.