SAN DIEGO - Interactive Band-Aids. Posters that let you pose with virtual images of celebrities. Consol-quality video games on smartphones. Content shared instantly across smartphones, tablets and televisions.
"We're going to push the boundaries of what's really possible in mobile," Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said during a keynote speech at the company's annual Uplinq conference on Wednesday. "I don't think it's an overstatement to say we are literally changing the world."
Pushing boundaries was the key takeaway on the opening day of Uplinq, an event aimed at getting developers to leverage Qualcomm software and chips in their apps. The company is working with both handset manufacturers and individual developers to create top-of-the-line applications that work best on its chips, a strategy that could help it maintain its dominant position in the semiconductor market for wireless devices.
Jacobs highlighted a couple of Qualcomm initiatives gaining traction with developers. The company opened a beta release of its Snapdragon software development kit for Android, software which will allow developers to access application programming interfaces not otherwise accessible through the mobile operating system.
The platform will give developers access to features like rapid-fire photo capture, low-power geofencing and advanced facial recognition technologies that prevent photos from being taken while the subject is blinking. The software only works on Android smartphones running Snapdragon, giving developers another reason to favor phones running Qualcomm chips.
Raj Talluri, senior vice president of product management, took the stage to show off console-quality games running on smartphones using Snapdragon. Top-tier graphics effects "are the kinds of things you see on high-quality console games, and we're now able to do it on the smartphone," he said.
Android wasn't the only app platform to get attention. Jacobs announced a developer contest for Windows RT apps and a new partnership with Akamai on faster page download times for mobile websites.
Qualcomm's AllJoyn peer-to-peer sharing technology was a major part of Jacobs' presentation. AllJoyn is an open-source software framework allowing developers to use existing radio access technologies like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for proximal ad hoc networking. In plain English, "you can enable people who are using your app to connect to other people using the same app, and it happens on the fly when they're near to each other," Jacobs said.
Nero CEO Jurgen Kurz took the stage to show off its AllJoyn-based Kwik Media app, which lets users instantly share content across different devices. In his demonstration, Kurz showed how the app allowed a picture taken with a smartphone could be seamlessly shared with a tablet and television.
"AllJoyn has already solved a lot of the complex networking stuff for us," Kurz said.
Qualcomm also highlighted its VuPhoria augmented reality platform, which appears to be gaining traction. The Johnson & Johnson's VuPhoria-based Band-Aid Magic Vision app won a top award at the at the 2012 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and mobile advertiser Blippar is using the technology for interactive posters.
"Consumers don’t' understand the keyword 'image recognition' or 'augmented reality' but they recognize when something's 'blippable'," Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra said, pointing out that even Justin Beiber is on board with the platform.
The Uplinq event has undergone significant changes over the past few years, reflecting continued upheaval in mobile technology. The conference used to focus on Qualcomm’s Brew platform when it was operating under its old moniker, Brew Fest, but the company has changed tacks to cover the dominant mobile operating systems being used by app developers. About 2,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event.