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Gimbal from Qualcomm delivers a Minority Report future today


The movie Minority Report delivered a very interesting viewpoint as to our possible future world in several ways. Some technologies, like the use of virtual reality screens, are now slowly appearing on the market, while other ideas, like the exotic wall climbing cars, are probably destined to remain mythical Sci-Fi for the foreseeable future.


One other feature which stood out in the film was the interactive advertising system which beamed personal adverts to people as they passed storefronts in the mall, and we may be about to experience this reality sooner than we expected, if a recent announcement by Qualcomm is anything to go by.

The new Gimbal chipset from Qualcomm Labs uses all of the sensors in a modern smartphone to deliver context aware applications and information to the user. What does this mean? Well by using GPS location data, image recognition and high speed Internet, future smartphones will begin to understand what things we enjoy, how we consume and other factors which will enable a new generation of services tailored to each person as they go through their daily routines.

It may seem fanciful, but the idea of helping us navigate our increasingly complex daily schedules through the use of technology is no more than an extension of smartphone technology at the moment. Siri and other ‘virtual assistants’ are the first small steps in what will eventually be a fully interactive phone with the ability to proactively recommend actions without waiting to be told, or for you to ‘check in’ at some point.



All the technology already exists in our smartphones in the form of the radios and sensors, and the new Gimbal technology allows it all to be integrated together in a very battery efficient format (because it’s chip, rather than software, based). The company also promises robust privacy control, so all this data won’t end up in unscrupulous hands, but when you consider all the information that VISA, Amazon, Google and Facebook store about our habits, likes and movements, there’s not much else that isn’t already out there.


Technology pundit Robert Scoble raves about it in typical fashion, although he makes the interesting comment that because Apple lock down their phones and won’t allow developer access to the radios, this contextual revolution could bypass the iPhone altogether unless they change their attitude. Another reason why open platforms are a better bet long term?

It will clearly take some time for all the backend technology to come together, as well as the right kind of applications and buy-in from companies and services, but assuming that the mobile providers improve their mobile Internet speeds and coverage properly (yeah?), there’s really no reason why this kind of technology shouldn’t start to have an effect within the next couple of years or so. Interesting.

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