Qualcomm is is working with its Snapdragon 820 chip, which will launch later this year. At the heart of the 820 is Qualcomm’s first ever cognitive computing platform called “Zeroth”, which was first demoed at CES in January.
Zeroth will act as an ‘active’ personal assistant, rather than a ‘passive’ one. A modern smartphone has around 10 sensors attached to it, which are constantly absorbing information. Zeroth will use those sensors, process that data and actively make decisions for you to improve your smartphone experience.
A good example of Zeroth in use is smartphone photography. Typically users rarely venture outside of the automatic settings – few tinker with manual controls to optimise pictures. This is where Zeroth will take over, as Qualcomm’s VP of marketing Tim McDonough explains.
“We trained Zeroth how to recognise the scene that you typically use when you have to manually select. Landscape, portrait and low-light – all those settings you can use but nobody does. Zeroth knows if it’s outside, inside, daytime or night-time. We also taught it to recognise objects.”
“If I point it at my hand, it will know that it’s a hand and a watch. So you combine the data ‘is this an inside shot or an outside shot’, ‘is it a beach, a mountain, a flower or a piece of fruit.’ What you end up with is scene-data and object data, then you really choose the perfect settings to take the best picture.”
Zeroth will also index your pictures and make them searchable by keywords. For example, searching for ‘me at the beach’ will find the correct pictures because Zeroth knows what you and the beach look like.
Qualcomm is hoping that by releasing the SDK, developers will find interesting ways to use Zeroth and fulfil its potential. It’s also hoping that Zeroth represents a significant enough jump in technology that will put some distance between itself and the competition, whilst winning back business from the likes of Samsung and other OEMs. McDonough is confident the 820 will do just that.
“We win business based on having tech that no one else has. And that there’s a big enough difference to the alternatives. That’s how the pendulum has swung back over the years. With the 820, we’re going to really ratchet up the differentiation.”
“We’re going to offer something so different that people just have to have it.”
The 820, will have its own built-in LTE modem, helping reduce costs, that the Exynos has separately.
Qualcomm is expected to sample the Snapdragon 820 chip to their customers the 2H 2015.