Smartphone maker Oppo unveils own chip aimed at better photographs

Chinese firm offers augmented reality glasses with single lens and microprojector

Chinese smartphone brand Oppo has unveiled its first self-designed chip that it claims will produce better photography, as the company continues its push into the mobile market.

The MariSilicon X was unveiled at Oppo's innovation day, where the company also revealed its first smart eyewear, Oppo Air Glass.

The new chip is significantly faster than previous chips used in Oppo’s flagship phones, and will also be more energy-efficient for some tasks. It will also enable better photography, allowing the phone to process RAW images in real time. The RAW image format contains more data than the compressed jpeg format, and requires more power to process.

According to Oppo, the new chip will help produce better night images, making it possible to capture 4K night video footage enhanced with artificial intelligence to reduce noise. Oppo said it was the first time that 4K AI HDR Night Video capturing was possible on Android phones

Image technology

The 6nm chip is produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and is set to debut in the Find X range of smartphones early next year.

"With more than a decade of experience in pushing the boundaries of image technology, Oppo has been behind some of the biggest innovations in the industry when it comes to camera modules, lenses and algorithms," said Jiang Bo, Oppo's senior director. "Our new cutting-edge imaging NPU is the biggest leap we've taken so far, which brings more power to mobile imaging systems and will create an extraordinary experience for our users."

The company also unveiled its augmented reality glasses, the OppoAir Glass, which includes a single lens and a microprojector. It is controlled through touch, voice commands, head movement or hand gestures.

Trade sanctions

"Oppo has been exploring the possibilities of Extended Reality (XR) for a long time, and we have now created a smart glass product that is truly within the reach of consumers," said Levin Liu, vice-president and head of Oppo Research Institute. "Oppo Air Glass is set to revolutionise the way we view and consume information." The glasses are available in two different types of frames – a silver half-frame, and a black full-frame – and come installed with applications such as weather, calendar, health, teleprompter, translation and navigation.

The glasses are set for launch in the Chinese market initially, going on sale early next year.

Oppo is one of the brands targeting the mobile market that Huawei once occupied. The rival Chinese smartphone company has been the subject of trade sanctions with the US, which has resulted in it losing access to key software, chip design and manufacturing partners.

The company developed its own operating system and launched in the European market after the sanctions meant it could no longer access Google Mobile Services for its new devices.