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The making of cutting-edge camera features and tools starts here, in Qualcomm's photo and imaging lab, where teams test computer vision and artificial intelligence.

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The reference design

Engineering vice president Serafin Diaz shows off the reference tablet that Qualcomm mocked up for testing and perfecting 3D scanning of the living room.

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Ready? Let's scan

Diaz starts panning around the room, watching the shaded portions fill in. Depth sensors give this software its 3D capabilities.

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Rotate

A bluish tint shows the scan's progress (this takes time). Meanwhile, Diaz shows how he can rotate the model within the interface. If you miss a spot, you can go back.

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What it means for you

Scans of interiors are accurate, Diaz says, which makes this type of program ideal for remodeling and other architectural work.

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Kids these days

"Kids are three-dimensionally-aware," Diaz said. "I believe the next generation is going to demand these kinds of features on their mobile devices."

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Extra circuitry

It isn't pretty, but you can see the mods that help make this demo work on a Qualcomm chip.

Even if a device has a Qualcomm chip to support 3D imaging like this, electronics makers will have to decide if they want to use the features in their products.

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3D object scans

This next demo scans the space for planes, like walls and tabletops. It can then compute the volume of objects in the space, which would be ideal for a device like a robot to have, so it can interact with those objects or avoid them.

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The robot room

You can't rely on humans to test algorithms, Diaz said.

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Robot arm

You need precise, repeatable motions. Hence, this robotic arm, which follows a set of complex directions to test 3D tracking.

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Close up

The robot in question wields a smartphone in its clutches.

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Keep a human on hand

The labs' human occupants still maintain override control and perform some individual tests as well.

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Artificial intelligence smarts

Zeroth sounds like a comic book villain, but is actually a platform for running AI imaging functions.

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Smart sorting

This gallery is really cool. You can find photos by attributes such as clouds, sunrises, indoor, party -- all from the device. The gallery won't waste time consulting the cloud.

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What is this?

The camera can look at live objects, like these flowers, and adjust settings to take the best photo. It also automatically tags the images.

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Photos, too

In addition to accurately describing real-life objects, this Zeroth camera can break down photos of scenes as well.

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More tags

The tags on this picture are easier to see: car, outdoors, no people. Well, maybe it needs a little more work. Remember, this is still a demo. The final version will tag in the background.

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Face detection

The camera will also try to auto-tag people it knows by faces it sees, meaning that you can search photos by looking for a person's name.

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Handwriting recognition

Optical character recognition is a tough nut to crack. This one reads and converts handwriting, not just printed text.

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Overlay

Converted text overlays the original handwritten note here. You can slide your finger to see both views. Imagine taking a photo of a whiteboard, then later searching through the digitized text.

Want more? See how magnetic fields make wireless charging a whole lot cooler.

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