Although Qualcomm seeks to improve the user experience, its always-on camera technology raises some privacy concerns. In fact, the latter allows you to lock or unlock the phone without touching it.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is expected to be available in early 2022. The smartphones equipped with this processor will benefit from an always-on camera, which will allow their users to unlock them at a glance. For some, this feature can be very interesting while for others it may compromise data security.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 keeps the camera always on
A camera always on offers a very basic benefit. Qualcomm pointed out that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will allow the user to unlock their smartphone as soon as they look at it. It is not necessary to resort to:
- a fingerprint sensor,
- to a complex set of face detection algorithms
- or even a voice command.
When the user looks away, the smartphone is locked. This last element represents the security aspect on which Qualcomm focuses. In fact, according to the company, this function guarantees data backup.
In the event that the camera detects the face of the user or someone else, the phone will unlock. However, private information such as the content of notifications is not displayed.
Always-on camera compromises privacy
Qualcomm said data collected by a phone’s front camera will be processed on the device itself. None of this information would be sent to the cloud for use. Indeed, compared to the FaceID system used on a iPhone, this feature is based on an image signal processor. The latter remains active at all times and is hidden in the front camera. In fact, this always-on front camera poses risks of security breaches and social engineering hacking.
Malicious third parties can access the phone at any time. For example, they can operate home surveillance cameras to transmit video streams to remote servers.
Always-on cameras can be compared to the microphones in smartphones and other voice assistants that are always listening. However, these devices can only work if they detect certain keywords, also known as “wake-up words”.