Qualcomm is Building a Digital Human Brain

During the President’s Lecture Series at San Diego State University two weeks ago, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said that the company is building a digital human brain. Stating that the brain isn’t programmed but rather taught, Jacobs emphasized that the company’s work was meant to help humanity through the “digital sixth sense” — the merging of the cyber and real worlds.

He described the process of discovery this way:

The team actually started out by building a retina and they came to me and said: ‘Look, it responds to these optical illusions the same way a human does.’ They put another layer of cells behind that [and] it started to find features. They put another layer, it started to find corners or oriented lines or something. Another layer, it started to find patterns.

Jacobs is talking about Brain Corporation, a small research company that is developing novel algorithms based on the functionality of the nervous system, with applications in visual perception, motor control, and autonomous navigation. The intention is to equip consumer devices, such as mobile phones or household robots, with artificial nervous systems. Qualcomm funds Brain Corporation research and hosts the company on its campus in San Diego, California.

Scientists at Brain Corporation are re-creating in the computer the shapes of every one of the billions of nerve cells that make up our brains, the component parts of intricate neural circuits that allow us to move, see and hear, to feel and to think. With this new tool, researchers are beginning to decipher the secrets of the brain’s architecture, which may one day enable us to build smart technologies that surpass the capabilities of anything we have today.

This video is based on a paper published by neuroscientist Hermann Cuntz, and colleagues in the online journal PLoS Computational Biology.

Study: One Rule to Grow Them All: A General Theory of Neuronal Branching and Its Practical Application

Source: KPBS.org

Digital Pathology and Visuvi Visual Search

At the 2009 JavaOne Conference in June, Visuvi Inc., a Redwood City, California-based company developing visual search solutions, announced a Java-based visual search technology that integrates a JavaFX front-end with PathXchange, a Web 2.0 pathology portal. The Visuvi Java application enables medical professionals to take a digital biopsy image of 50,000 x 60,000 pixels (that’s 3000 mega pixels) and search medical images in leading databases for similarities.

The power of this technology is that the medical images in the databases have corresponding case information. Thus, images that are found to be similar also provide information on patient diagnosis, treatments, outcomes, etc. This is particulary useful in oncology since, in more cases than you’d expect, pathologists disagree on whether a particular image shows cancer or not [1-3]. By comparing pathology images, the technology greatly accelerates the review process and allows a diagnosis to be more objective than what is currently done.

Check out their demo at the conference in the video below. James Gosling (the inventor of Java) was clearly impressed with the significance of the technology. Chris Boone, CEO and president of Visuvi, and Florian Brody, VP Marketing, highlighted and captured a section of an actual prostate cancer biopsy image and searched 90,000 images in 0.3 seconds to find related patient cases.

PathXchange is a not-for-profit professional networking portal for the global pathology community. PathXchange brings the field of pathology into the digital age with Web 2.0 features designed to promote exchange of pathological cases, knowledge and information, combining the elements of a case gallery, community content contribution and professional networking.


  1. Farmer et al. Discordance in the histopathologic diagnosis of melanoma and melanocytic nevi between expert pathologists. Hum Pathol. 1996 Jun;27(6):528-31.
    View abstract
  2. Lettieri et al. Discordance between general and pulmonary pathologists in the diagnosis of interstitial lung disease. Respir Med. 2005 Nov;99(11):1425-30. Epub 2005 Apr 21.
    View abstract
  3. Lodha et al. Discordance in the histopathologic diagnosis of difficult melanocytic neoplasms in the clinical setting. J Cutan Pathol. 2008 Apr;35(4):349-52.
    View abstract