Brain chips offer a new approach to crunching data

The age of biological computing is just around the corner, as new computer chips will enable devices to absorb new information and adjust their functions based on what they have learned.

According to the New York Times, the first commercial version of this technology will launch in 2014, a likely reference to the Zeroth processor announced by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)  in October, which the company describes as a Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Qualcomm has said it intends to release the new processor design for use by researchers and startups sometime in 2014.

By developing a computing approach based upon the biological nervous system, scientists hope to create artificial intelligence systems capable of human-like perception, thus promising advancements in facial and speech recognition as well as navigation and planning. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is also among numerous companies that are highly involved in biological computing, having developed models using software infrastructure for training a large-scale neural network to scan and teach itself to identify millions of images without human supervision. In this case, the network taught itself to recognize images of cats.

While robotic devices will likely be the first applications for brain-inspired computing architectures, the technology is also expected to have a role in making smartphones even smarter down the road. For more, see this New York Times article. (sub. req.)