MIT Technology Review: Qualcomm is working on Glance camera module that combines image sensor and a low-power processor that runs computer-vision algorithms. On a smartphone, Glance could make new security features practical, says Jeff Henckels, Qualcomm’s director of product management and business development. He says that manufacturers are interested in using iris scans to identify people and unlock phones—but a device’s camera can’t be constantly active without draining the battery. A Glance sensor consumes about 2mW of power, as opposed to hundreds of milliwatts for a typical smartphone camera module. Its resolution of 320 x 240 pixels isn’t high enough to handle tasks like facial recognition or to map the image of an individual’s iris, but it can recognize when a person is facing a phone’s screen and then activate the device’s front-facing camera to scan his or her iris.
Henckels says engineering samples of Glance hardware and a software development kit are in the hands of several device makers, and that smartphone vendors are testing the iris-scan capabilities. He declined to say when products featuring the technology would appear, or when Qualcomm would turn it into a commercial product.