Qualcomm to enable 'conscious' security cameras at lower costs

Just as all eyes are on Qualcomm's next move after its recent realignment, the company threw a surprise by announcing its entry into the security camera market by way of a reference design. But what for, you ask? Well, it's all about reducing the bill of materials while offering powerful features -- including 4K video and LTE radio -- at the same time. On paper, this Snapdragon 618 IP Camera platform co-developed by Thundersoft is very much a mid-range smartphone packaged differently: It contains a six-core 64-bit CPU (dual 1.8GHz Cortex-A72 and quad 1.2GHz Cortex-A53), Adreno 510 GPU, LTE Cat 7 radio (300 Mbps down / 100 Mbps up), 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS. Compared to conventional solutions using multiple chips, the full integration on the Snapdragon chipset means lower manufacturing costs.

Senior Vice President Raj Talluri added that this $799 reference design also packs some smart features to help bring down the total cost of ownership. You see, even though it records at 4K resolution, the hardware-based High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) can reduce video bandwidth by up to 50 percent when compared to H.264, which comes in handy for cloud subscriptions that go by bandwidth or storage space. Better yet, rather than using up extra bandwidth for cloud analysis, the Snapdragon camera has the processing power to recognize objects or faces, track objects and even run Qualcomm's Zeroth intelligence software to learn the objects it sees, which is why the company calls this HAL 9000 a "conscious camera."

With the smartphone market slowing down and competitors coming up with more integrated LTE modems, Qualcomm's bold move is crucial for staying relevant in both the industrial and consumer spaces. Whether this will take off is a whole different question, so we'll have to wait and see how many commercial products based on this design will pop up next year.