Here’s what Qualcomm plans to do about smartphone zombies

Sometimes, the right decision is the hardest to make. Case in point, the impossibility of dissuading some people from walking down the street with their eyes glued to their phones has led Qualcomm to come up with an answer that actually makes it easier to do so in an effort to lower the impact on the rest of us.

That is, the impact of slamming into someone on the sidewalk because you were too busy checking your Instagram feed. In a patent filing published earlier this month, the mobile chip giant revealed plans to create firmware that will layer a semi-transparent feed from the front-facing camera over the open application to create a new field of vision.


The perspective is automatically corrected for the angle in which the device is held to provide a consistent view of the happenings ahead even as the holder shifts their position around. Qualcomm helpfully attached several potential hardware configurations that could support that feature to the filling, the most interesting of which is this one:


The little circles marked 530 and 540 represent gyroscopic cameras installed on the top of the chassis, which makes sense since most people don’t hold their phones directly in front of their faces. But that may limit such a layout when shooting regular video or pictures, a trade-off that might require Qualcomm put yet another camera on the back  for a total of three.

Not that you could look any more ridiculous playing Angry Birds instead of concentrating on the sidewalk than you do now, mind you. All joking aside, however, that could  prove as a potential lifesaver in many situations, especially since the filing indicates Qualcomm’s system will also include object recognition software to warn users about potential threats ahead.

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