Google’s Pixel 2 launch event on October 4th put a lot of emphasis on the new smartphone’s camera capabilities. However, the presenters at the event left out one very interesting detail: Google Visual Core.
Visual Core is a system-on-a-chip, designed to power and accelerate the Pixel 2 phones’ much-lauded HDR+ function that achieves better dynamic range and reduced noise levels through computational imaging.
The new Pixel 2 phones already come with the chip built in but it has not been activated yet. It appears Google ran out of time before the Pixel 2 launch to fully optimize Visual Core implementation in the device.
The good news is it will be activated at some point “over the coming months” which should make HDR+ processing on the new devices even quicker and smoother than it already is. According to Google it will then be 5x faster and use less than 1/10th of the the energy”, a real advantage over the current general purpose processing. In the future the chip could also take over additional image processing tasks.
The company will also enable Pixel Visual Core as a developer option in its Oreo 8.1 preview, allowing access to HDR+ for the developers of third-party camera apps. All of this is currently of course limited to Google’s Pixel 2 devices but there’s hope other manufacturer will pick up the Visual Core technology and associated software in the future.