Rick Merritt in EEtimes reports today that Qualcomm has just acquired some of the assets of gesture-recognition pioneer GestureTek and plans to insert that technology into future Snapdragon SoCs targeting smartphones, tablets, and consumer devices. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs are based on the company’s own implementation of the ARM Cortex-A8 processor core and the company has been shipping Snapdragon parts since late 2008. The original Snapdragon parts were made with 65nm technology; the current generation of Snapdragon parts employs 45nm process technology; and the next-generation parts will employ 28nm process technology. As the lithography shrinks, the technological reach of the parts expands and Qualcomm clearly feels that gesture recognition is one of the target apps that ought to go into the new capability mix.
Small wonder. Witness the immense recent success of the Microsoft Kinect accessory for the company’s Xbox 360 game console. Last month, Microsoft announced a free beta release of a Software Development Kit (SDK). The Kinect and the peripheral had been the target of rabid hacking due to the popularity of its abilities and Microsoft is busy making lemonade with the SDK, which will only serve to sell many, many more Kinects.
Meanwhile, mobile phones are great candidates for gesture-recognition technology because they already contain accelerometers and video cameras that allow the phone to see and sense gestures. All that’s needed is the right software and sufficient processing bandwidth to convert the raw sense data into gestures. Apparently, Qualcomm expects to have that processing bandwidth available in the Snapdragon SoC series.
The addition of gesture-based apps to Qualcomm’s arsenal of Snapdragon technology reinforces the EDA360 premise that apps are clearly a primary driving force in SoC development and will increasingly influence SoC design in the future.