Dev brings always-listening mode to Snapdragon 800 phones (no thanks to Qualcomm)
Voice control for smartphones really started hitting the mainstream with the introduction of Siri, and since then we’ve seen it expand to address new platforms (like the forthcoming launch of Cortana for WP8.1) and offer new abilities, like the Touchless Control always-listening mode offered by Motorola’s Moto X. While it was cool to see the Moto X pull off such a trick, we were left scratching our heads as to why dozens more Androids couldn’t do the same. After all, such functionality was teased as one of the Snapdragon 800’s abilities long before the chip ever saw the light of day. So why weren’t we seeing anything like this on more phones, even if only through custom ROMs? It soon became apparent that blame laid squarely on Qualcomm, which refused to provide the necessary API support to independent devs. Those devs are a resourceful bunch, though, and even in the absence of sanctioned support, progress has been made on implementing an always-listening mode through the Snapdragon 800’s DSP, as revealed in the Nexus 5 proof-of-concept video below.
Guillaume Lesniak shared that clip on Google+ last week, while also talking briefly about his work here. He asserts that we’re seeing a fully asleep CPU, where the DSP is doing all the audio processing required to trigger the “wake up” signal. While he mentions that the feature is “far from being stable,” it’s still an impressive effort, especially considering how little support Qualcomm has been making available to devs.
Lesniak laments that he’s unable to release the files behind this feat, but expresses hope that one day he may be able to bring this sort of functionality to more people, leaving us optimistic that a public release may eventually be possible.