Qualcomm today announced the expansion of its Spectra Module Program with the addition of second-generation camera modules and Spectra ISP. The headline features with this next-gen technology is that it will be better suited, and more optimized, to account for the increasing demand of biometric authentication and high-resolution depth sensing features. Qualcomm has yet to detail the full extent or capabilities of the second-generation products, but has provided some information on what can be expected, as well as confirming that Qualcomm Spectra camera modules and ISP technology will likely debut with the company's "next flagship Snapdragon Mobile Platform" – which based on reports so far will likely be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.
The Qualcomm Spectra Module Program is best understood as the collective sum of modules and integrated image signal processors which can be used by companies to offer more efficient and better quality mobile photography experiences with their devices. The previous generation modules and ISPs placed their focus on low-light photography and smooth video recording, as well as accounting for the recent trend in dual rear camera technology. Where the new generational modules and ISPs look to differ is that in addition to standard improvements which would be expected year-over-year to current features, they also look to offer some very specific advances to biometric authentication features (such as face and iris authentication) and depth sensing. The latter or which is one area which now encompasses multiple use cases. In fact, on the module side of things, Qualcomm have announced two different depth-sensing modules (one passive and one active) which will look to account for the different sides of the pricing (entry-level and premium) spectrum. Where entry-level devices are able to make use of depth-sending functionality, albeit as a 'lite' feature compared to the more precise and accurate depth-sensing on offer with the active version.
Qualcomm explains that these next-gen options are also better adapted to dealing with issues that can arise when multiple frames are fused together. In short, when blending these multiple frames, the second-generation ISP will be able to reduce the level of noise that arises from blending, resulting in more detailed and accurate images overall. Another improvement will be seen through electronic image stabilization (EIS), where videos using the new technology appear more steady and more similar to footage captured with a camcorder than a smartphone. Then there is the various benefits on offer to features that make use of the various 'realities', such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and extend reality (XR). All of these realities will be able to benefit from advancements including an improved ability to utilize machine learning, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), and more. All of course, while also adopting a stance where power consumption has been reduced in general. So not only will images captured be of a better quality, better processed behind the scenes, better optimized, more stable, and able to track objects in a more accurate fashion, but the modules and ISPs will also be able to do all of this in a more power efficient manner. Check out the video below for a closer look at the benefits that will be on offer with Qualcomm's next-gen Spectra camera modules and ISPs.