The last iPhone had a fingerprint reader built into the device’s home button. While a cool gadget, it didn’t dramatically change the device. Here’s new development that will.
At the core of Google’s freshly announced experimental Project Tango smartphone platform is a vision processor called the Myriad 1, manufactured by chip startup Movidius and its CEO Remi El-Ouazzane. The chip is being used by Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects Group, retained in the Motorola split, to enable developers to access computer vision processing never before seen on a phone. I’ve been talking to El-Ouazzane about the possibilities of the Myriad 1 and computer vision on mobile devices for some time. The way that low-powered computer vision systems like this will change the phones that we all use cannot be overstated.
What does that mean? We have known for a few years how to get computers to “see” the world around them in 3d. Not just take 3d video, I mean to know the actual topology of what is around them and identify what objects are there. This provides a computer with contextual awareness of it’s surroundings which allows you to do some very impressive things. While this has been possible for a few years, the breakthrough here is it has been coded into a chip that takes very little power to run. That means you can embed it into all sorts of mobile devices.
First, a video primer on how their tech works.
The implications of this technology are huge. Here’s 6 ideas just off the top of my head.
- This makes augmented reality possible. Not just on a smartphone screen, but in Google Glasses and other AR gear.
- This will find its way into cars soon for collision avoidance and backup sensor technology. This also makes automated cars more practical and lower cost.
- Robots will now be able to navigate new environments more quickly. Today they need to be programmed ahead of time with the environment maps.
- School kids will be able to use this to create 3d models of anything, quickly.
- People will be able to map any environment and put it into a virtual world.
- These chips will be essential to the coming generation of Smart Toys. They will be able to see what is around them, watch what the child is doing and interact with them.
I think this will make it into smartphones within two years. Oh, and while this is a Google product, Apple recently purchased a company that is making a similar chip.
For a great primer on the implications of this technology see this other post on TechCrunch.