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INSIGHTS

A closer look at Qualcomm’s move into the IP camera SoC market

A closer look at Qualcomm’s move into the IP camera SoC market
Qualcomm SoC products are now available for IP camera makers, offering them more alternatives in the midst of the US-China trade war that has directly impacted Hisilicon.
The systems-on-chip (SoC) is a critical component in IP cameras. Besides the two major IP camera SoC brands, Ambarella and Hisilicon, other entrants have emerged, one of them being Qualcomm. In this note, we examine why they entered the IP camera SoC arena, what makes Qualcomm SoC products unique, and the ecosystem of partners they have formed, including with Oncam.
 
The common perception is that Qualcomm products are mostly smartphone SoCs, which are marketed under the Snapdragon name and can be found in mobile device brands such as Samsung, Xiaomi and Sony. Now, the market is also seeing Qualcomm camera SoCs. GoPro, for example, uses Qualcomm’s Vision Intelligence Platform in their HERO 7 model. Qualcomm QCS610 and QCS410 SoCs are used in IP cameras as well.

In an interview with asmag.com, Tim Yates, Senior Director for Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies, explains why his company has also taken an interest in IP camera SoCs, which he said are transitioning from simple video capture and evolving to higher resolution, smarter cameras with local AI and CV processing at edge and ultimately 5G connectivity, where Qualcomm has already commercialized such technology in mobile and automotive markets.

“Qualcomm has utilized our experience in connectivity and mobile to bring key learnings to this space, focusing on and providing expertise across ML, AI, running on the edge, low-power compute and more. These key learnings are used to help understand needs beyond smart phone cameras,” Yates said. “Stand-alone IP cameras have rather different needs compared to smart phones including capturing images in low-light, require a higher dynamic range, 360 degree capture, support AI/ML models and CV (computer vision and analytics) at the network edge, and provide continuous and reliable operation 24/7. Qualcomm QCS610 and QCS410 are providing high-end features and a 50 percent increase in AI capabilities compared to previous generation along with choice of Linux or Android operating systems."
 

Qualcomm SoC solutions giving camera vendors more options


Qualcomm camera SoCs give more options to vendors who are faced with a changing IP camera landscape. Vendors are now looking for high-performance and low-power SoCs to enable next-generation IP cams that support AIoT (artificial intelligence plus IoT). Market-wise, the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, which directly impacts Hisilicon, may require some vendors to look for alternatives.

According to Yates, Qualcomm SoC solutions stand out in the competition due to their various features, including their ability to highly integrate different hardware and software like AI engine, CPU, GPU and DSP onto the SoC.

“We have robust integrated features in our SoCs that make these offerings truly unique – essentially a one-stop shop for integrated technologies into one SoC. This is something not offered by other camera companies as some features like security, WiFi and cellular connectivity and audio/video can be separate chips. The integrated features offer our customers a system-level solution as well as savings in BOM,” Yates said.
 
Among the camera segments that can benefit from Qualcomm camera SoCs are enterprise and home security, fleet management, video collaboration, wearables and consumer electronics, Yates said, adding the company works with different ecosystem partners including Altek, eInfochips, Thundercomm, PilotAI, Sercomm, Lantronix to enable end solutions to get to market quickly.
 

Partnership with Oncam

 
One camera vendor that already uses Qualcomm SoC is Oncam, which is strong at fisheye cameras. In an interview with asmag.com, Scott Brothers, Group Chief Operating Officer for Oncam, explains why the company chose Qualcomm SoC for their latest C-series cameras.
 
“We were looking for a powerful SoC that would allow us include a set of market-leading camera features,” Brothers notes, saying the Qualcomm SoC was able to meet their requirements. “We’ve been able to harness that power to deliver the features that our partners and their customers are looking for in a 360-degree camera, including frame rates of 55fps, advanced compression technology, the ability to deliver sharp images and high-quality video in even challenging light conditions and high dynamic range features at 25fps and a host of other benefits to simplify end user experiences.”
 

Conclusion


Qualcomm’s entry into the camera SoC market will provide more options as cameras get smarter and more connected. With Qualcomm already building an ecosystem of partners to push their products, it will be interesting to see how the company does in the camera SoC market in the near term.
 


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