Qualcomm Pushes Further Into Wearable Space With New SoC

The chip maker at Computex rolled out the Snapdragon Wear 1100 chip, the latest addition to its wearables platform that was introduced in February.

Qualcomm SoC

Qualcomm is expanding its presence in the increasingly competitive market for chips aimed at the wearable device space, adding a new processor to its portfolio and highlighting the growing number of products being powered by its technologies.

At the recent Computex 2016 show in Taipei, Taiwan, Qualcomm officials introduced the Snapdragon Wear 1100 system on a chip (SoC), which is aimed at such targeted-purpose segments as connected watches for kids and the elderly, fitness trackers, smart headsets and wearable accessories. The Snapdragon Wear 1100 becomes part of Qualcomm's growing lineup of wearable technologies, including the Snapdragon Wear platform and 2100 SoC announced in February.

The Snapdragon Wear 1100 will complement the 2100, which officials said is more for "multi-purpose" wearables. The new SoC will make it "easier for customers to develop connected wearables with targeted use cases such as kid and elderly tracking," Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm's Internet of things (IoT) business, said in a statement. "We are actively working with the broader ecosystem to accelerate wearables innovation and are excited to announce a series of customer collaborations today."

Qualcomm is the world's largest vendor of low-power chips for mobile devices. However, with the tablet market shrinking and sales of smartphones slowing, the company has aggressively moved to expanding into such emerging markets as wearables, the IoT and connected cars. Gartner analysts expect that 274.6 million wearable devices will be sold worldwide this year, generating $287.7 billion in revenue. About $11.5 billion of that will come from smartwatches. IDC analysts say the number of wearable devices shipping this will jump 44.4 percent over 2015, to 111.1 million devices. By 2019, shipments will hit 214.6 million units, they said.

Qualcomm officials initially promoted the Snapdragon 400 for wearable devices, but noted that the Snapdragon Wear 2100 is 30 percent smaller and provides 25 percent lower power consumption than the 400.

The Snapdragon Wear 1100 is designed to meet the growing customer demand for smaller devices that offer longer battery life, smarter sensing, and secure location and always-connected capabilities. It includes such features as Power Save Mode, compact packages and next-generation Cat 1 modems with LTE/3G global band support. It also offers an integrated applications processor for Linux-based applications and can support voice, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Also integrated is Qualcomm's iZat location engine, a hardware cryptographic engine and ARM's TrustZone technology for highly secure environments. The SoC is available immediately.

Qualcomm officials also noted new reference platforms and products hitting the market that use the ARM-based Snapdragon Wear 2100 and 1100 SoCs. Companies like Aricent, Borqs, Informark and SurfaceInk are rolling out reference platforms of which OEMs can take advantage to build such products as targeted-purpose smartwatches, such as those for the elderly. In addition, several device makers launched Qualcomm-based kid smartwatches at Computex, including Anda Technologies, inWatch and WeBandz. In all, there are more than 100 wearable devices on the market that are powered by Qualcomm technologies, the company said.

In addition to the Snapdragon Wear 1100, Qualcomm at Computex introduced the QCA4012 chip, the newest addition to its QCA401x family of connectivity solutions aimed at the IoT. The new chip includes dual-band WiFi, low power capabilities, improved security and a smaller size. It's also priced to make it more attractive to developers of connected devices. In addition, Qualcomm is bringing support for such IoT standards as Apple's HomeKit, Google's Weave and the Allseen Alliance's AllJoyn to the QCA401x platform.