Qualcomm Wants to Put Snapdragon Chips Into Surveillance Cameras

The company is unveiling the ARM-based Snapdragon 618 camera reference design and IP SDK in its latest push into the IoT.

surveillance camera

Qualcomm is continuing to grow its capabilities in the Internet of things, most recently with the unveiling this week of a reference design and development platform for surveillance cameras that feature the chip maker's Snapdragon architecture.

Qualcomm's efforts in the Internet of things (IoT) have touched on everything from smart lighting to consumer drones. Now the company has developed the Snapdragon 618 camera reference design and IP camera software development kit (SDK) that feature processing, connectivity, imaging and analytics capabilities from Qualcomm.

The company is the world's top vendor of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) for smartphones, but in recent years has looked to extend the reach of its low-power ARM-based silicon into other markets. Qualcomm is one of a number of ARM-based chip makers—including Applied Micro, Cavium and Advanced Micro Devices—that are developing chips for servers to challenge Intel's dominance in the data center.

At the same time, the company is moving aggressively into the IoT. The company has created a development kit for IoT devices, acquired companies like chip maker CSR—which brought with it expertise in such areas as Bluetooth connectivity and automotive infotainment systems—and partnered with such vendors as Lifx, which is working with Qualcomm to develop a smart lighting platform.

Qualcomm also helped launch the AllSeen Alliance industry consortium, which is developing an open framework for IoT connectivity, and in September introduced a module—the Snapdragon Flight—that is based on its Snapdragon 801 SoC and is aimed at drones.

Now the company is turning its attention to surveillance cameras.

"We're tapping into our immense portfolio to build custom platforms for key segments within the IoT, and connected cameras are one of these areas that can benefit from our industry-leading connectivity and processing solutions," Raj Talluri, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm, said in a statement.

Company officials want to create what officials are calling a "conscious camera" that not only can stream 4K HEVC, but also includes video analytics capabilities inside the device, including object detection, facial detection and recognition, and multi-object tracking. It also will use Qualcomm's Zeroth technology for object classification.

Putting analytics inside the camera means that the device no longer will have to stream all of its data back to servers in the data center, which will save both time and network bandwidth and storage costs. The surveillance camera will only stream data when certain events occur, according to officials.

The analytics capabilities also will make the device less costly than server-based cameras.

"Moving the video analytics processing from the server to the camera at the point of capture will open up a new class of big data applications," Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager of IoE (Internet of everything) at Qualcomm, said in a statement. "Qualcomm Snapdragon processors already power over 500 smartphone designs with 4K UltraHD video capability, so it's natural for us to bring this same technology leadership into IP camera space."

The Snapdragon 618 IP camera platform includes a six-core, 64-bit CPU based on ARM's Cortex-A72 and Cortex-A53 cores, an Adreno GPU, embedded Hexagon digital signal processor (DSP) and the video analytics technology. It also comes with multiple connectivity capabilities, including LTE connectivity, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, GPS, Ethernet and Bluetooth Smart 4.1, and is designed for 4K HEVC IP cameras.

The Snapdragon 618 IP camera platform is currently in the hands of select OEMs, with commercial availability set for the first half of 2016.