Qualcomm have announced the acquisition of Euvision Technologies, an image recognition specialist, which the US giant may be planning to bolster its image and visual recognition services. Euvision's current flagship product is called Impala, which may be used both for fun and also in a much grander sense: examples given including mining for images by large businesses or Government agencies such as Interpol. Social networks are interested in such software because it allows them to thread a balance between engaging and protecting users of their services, for example by excluding nudity, violence and similar images from a social media website. Euvision state that they invented their own computer vision algorithms encompassing the scientific publications' image libraries so as to improve how the software works. The company have also proven their software works on images that have never been viewed before; the system is less reliant on being trained by similar images. They are keen to point out that their software sees far beyond car registration plates and faces but can differentiate between ID cards and real images, bank notes, common application screenshots, sunsets, beaches, different animals. Euvision's core software product, Impala, is built in part on Qualcomm's Multicore Asychronous Runtime Environment (MARE), which is designed to speed up how the application runs on multicore processors.
Why would Qualcomm be interested in a specialist image recognition tool? The move may be driven by the rise of good quality cameras mounted on increasingly more powerful smartphones. We've seen an explosion of photographs being taken and shared amongst friends. There are signs that users are struggling to edit and categorise these images, so perhaps the chipmaker is planning on automating this process. Image recognition has been an important area for Google and Facebook, which have also been buying up technology and talent in this arena. And let's not forget that Qualcomm have given the Snapdragon 805 more of a focus on imaging with greater support for more and higher quality cameras. The Snapdragon included depth-of-field processing, which of course HTC makes special use of with the M8's dual camera set up.
It seems the days of an equipment manufacturer putting any old 5 MP camera on the back of even a mid-range smartphone are long past us. It's exciting to see the manufacturers coming up with ingenious ways to utilise the technology inside the handsets. I suspect that Qualcomm's acquisition won't be visibly noticed for another year or so, but how excited are you for seeing the new visual technology working on a smartphone or tablet near you?