In a world increasingly reliant on technology, power efficiency and privacy have emerged as defining challenges. Qualcomm's recent patent (US11836301B2), titled "Electronic device for tracking objects," aims to solve these twin problems, ensuring more efficient battery usage and enhanced privacy.
Ordinarily, Extended Reality (XR) devices - those that blend physical and virtual realities - implement multiple cameras to track an object's full range of motion, such as a user's hand. While these cameras significantly aid in tracking and detection, they also drain more power and can raise privacy concerns.
Imagine you're wearing an XR device, wanting to immerse yourself in a virtual world, but your device's battery is dwindling because of constant camera use. Or perhaps, you're hesitant about the device capturing images in certain settings. Turning off the cameras could conserve power and safeguard privacy, but at the cost of disabling tracking abilities essential for the XR experience.
Faced with such situations, it's clear the XR landscape needed a game-changing solution. Enter Qualcomm's patent, which uses wearable gadgets, such as a smartwatch or a technological ring, to determine the position and motion of objects, eliminating constant camera use. This seems like the device tracking its user’s movements, akin to a perpetual game of hide and seek.
Here's how it works. The wearable gadget picks up signals to figure out its position and movement. It feeds this data to the XR system, enabling it to follow the object's motion without round-the-clock image capturing. This method significantly decreases the XR device's power usage while maintaining the all-important tracking function.
Imagine a future where a 3D artist, engrossed in shaping a virtual sculpture using a smart ring, no longer worries about her XR device conking out because of low battery. Or consider a gamer in the midst of an intense virtual reality game, no longer concerned about his smart glasses capturing images of his personal space.
This patented technology opens exciting possibilities for numerous fields that use XR, including gaming, real estate, retail, and healthcare. For instance, this technology could let a doctor in New York treat a patient in Los Angeles using a smartwatch and XR device without any concerns about device battery life or privacy breaches.
Aside from Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon XR2 Platform, the wearable gadget could be any accessory like a ring, bracelet, or watch, broadening its application spectrum. The patent's illustrations (Figures 1,2A, 2B, and so on) showcase how a classic game of hide and seek unfolds between the XR device and the wearable accessory.
This patent is a promising solution to the challenge of power consumption and privacy concerns plaguing XR technology users. But an important caveat is warranted here: this is a patent, and there's no guarantee when, or indeed if, this innovation will grace the consumer market. Still, for now, it offers a tantalizing glimpse of what the future could hold.
P.S: Like any patent, there's no surety that this invention will make its way to the market, its advancement and availability will depend on a variety of factors. Nevertheless, the potential it unlocks prompts us to contemplate a future of efficient and privacy-respecting extended reality technology, should this patent become a reality.