Google has upped the ante in image recognition, and this could make your smartphone so smart, it’s scary. The company announced a new partnership with semiconductor startup Movidius, which happens to be owned by Google’s own parent company, Alphabet.
Movidius specializes in advanced visual applications, which are aimed at robotics, wearables, and smart security, as well as augmented and virtual reality. Movidius will provide Google with chips along with software that will be used to advance image recognition on smartphones.
Now we aren’t just talking about recognizing your friend Joe when you’re taking a photo of him. That will be possible, but this technology goes way deeper than that. It could be used for helping the vision-impaired or to authorize security transactions.
Google is already a leader in image recognition with its advanced algorithms in Google Photos. These algorithms can not only detect faces, but can detect objects as well. Users can search their entire photo database with search terms like snow, flowers, water, etc.
This kind of recognition is done in the cloud away from your smartphone. Movidius’ chip and software, however, brings this technology to your smartphone in real-time. This is the kind of advanced machine intelligence we have previously only dreamed about, but it’s becoming a reality. It’s unknown how Google will use these new chips in smartphones, but it seems like a natural fit for Project Tango phones.
Project Tango enables smartphones to map a user’s location in 3D. Just like Movidius’ chips, Project Tango works in real-time, and is perfect for augmented reality and the vision-impaired. The first Project Tango smartphone will be made by Lenovo, and it’s expected to launch this summer.
Interestingly enough, Movidius worked with Google on Project Tango by assisting in the development of its 3D maps.
It’s also likely Google will look to incorporate this technology on devices other than smartphones.
Unfortunately we have no idea when the first smartphone with the Movidius chip will be available, but it might not be that far off. According to Movidius Chief Executive Remi El-Ouazzane, devices could “launch in the not-to-distant future.”