Smartphones have always been filled with sensors and yet we may not be using those sensors to their fullest potential. Qualcomm’s Project Gimbal, introduced as a software development kit last June, is a way add features to mobile apps that give phones more awareness of the environments around them. Think low-powered geofencing that lets a phone know what might be interesting around you or perhaps having the phone “see” something that make it better understand your environment.
Qualcomm has worked helped several partners use the Project Gimbal SDK and showed me one example on the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show. Paramount uses Gimbal to help market its upcoming Star Trek movie, making the app interact with a nearby theater, movie poster or even from a television ad of the movie trailer. The best part? Gimbal processes much of its environmental data on the device instead of the cloud, making for near-instant interaction.
Take a look at this demo to see how it works and pay particular attention to the image recognition of the movie poster; it’s immediate.
Tying in all of the environmental variables adds context not only for the app user, but the app developer as well. Peter Marx, vice president of Business Development and Digital Studio at Qualcomm, explained the benefits to me. With this app, for example, Paramount gains an understanding of how many people see the movie poster and in what location. This type of data can provide a better return on investment for movie marketing and help measure user engagement.
Are our smartphones as smart as they can be? Not yet, but by providing tools that take advantage of the GPS radio, camera sensor and microphone, they’re going to get a lot smarter in the near future.