Qualcomm is launching a new set of Snapdragon Wear chips for targeted wearable devices.
The company made the announcement at the Computex trade show in Taiwan today. The new Snapdragon Wear 1100 chips are an expansion of the company’s previously announced wearable chips that have many different functions. The new chips will be part of devices that are targeted at certain audiences, such as kids’ watches or watches for the elderly, fitness trackers, smart headsets, and wearable accessories.
“Snapdragon Wear 1100 is targeting purpose-built wearables, or those that are designed only around a few usage cases,” said Pankaj Kedia, senior director and business lead of smart wearables at Qualcomm, in an interview with VentureBeat. “These kinds of products do two to five things really well. They run a more targeted software environment, like Linux. The whole user experience is much more targeted around these use cases. They still require low power, high integration, small size, and a good connected experience.”
The chips are part of the San Diego, Calif.-based chip maker’ broad initiative to go beyond pure mobile chips. Qualcomm is focused on the larger market of chips for the Internet of Things (or making everyday objects smart and connected). That includes “smart bodies,” “smart homes,” and “smart cities,” Kedia said. The Snapdragon Wear 1100 is optimized for size, power, sensors, connectivity, and location.
“IoT is a large space for us,” Kedia explained. “When we think of smart bodies, wearables is part of that space. There’s a lot of excitement in this part of the industry.”
Qualcomm started its wearable chips division in the summer of 2014. Four weeks ago, it announced that there are now 100 wearable products based on Qualcomm’s technology. That has been built at an adoption rate of one new customer a week. Qualcomm says it has 80 percent market share in devices that run Android Wear software.
“It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm in the ecosystem and an indication of how well we are doing,” Kedia said.
Qualcomm is also focused on multi-purpose wearables, like smart watches and smart glasses. Three months ago, Qualcomm launched its Snapdragon Wear 2100 chips for multi-purpose wearables, such as smart watches or smart glasses.
“We’re finally starting to see the technology available to make wearables a mainstream play,” said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Many consumers are looking to detach the smartphone from the wearable and have an autonomous solution with wireless capability. I believe the most successful implementations of the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wer 1100 we will see are kid trackers, elderly assist devices and exercise watches.”
The Snapdragon Wear 1100 has a Cat 1 modem and handles voice, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. It incorporates the Qualcomm iZat location engine for multi-GNSS, cell-ID positioning, and ability to support applications that utilize geo-fencing for safety monitoring. Integrated in the chipset are the hardware cryptographic engine, HW random number generator, and TrustZone, which supports a highly secure environment for consumers.
Snapdragon Wear 1100 is commercially available and shipping now. Qualcomm also announced a series of collaborations with Aricent, Borqs, Infomark, and SurfaceInk to showcase what can be done with the 2100 and 1100 chips. These platforms target the kid and elderly smart watch markets. The products will be shipping in the second half of the year, Kedia said.
“Aricent is thrilled to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies and take the Snapdragon 1100 SoC into the consumer wearables segment from gameplay, wellness and safety,” said Walid Negm, chief technology officer of Aricent, in a statement. “Combining the Aricent Adapt Wearable Platform with frog’s design and strategy services allows us to accelerate the creation of unique experiences that children and caretakers will enjoy. By wrapping the Snapdragon Wear 1100 with a rich set of modular capabilities such as 3G/LTE, gesture control and interactive apps we enable companies to seize opportunities at the best price and performance.”