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Medical, home net apps to propel mobile growth

Posted: 05 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:medical application? home networking? mobile communications? 3G?

Qualcomm Inc. executive VP Steve Mollenkopf offered a rather optimistic perspective for the mobility market at the GSA and IET Semiconductor Forum, stating that much of the future for mobile communications lies in applications such as mobile health and digital home networking.

These applications represent a tenfold growth potential over today's personal mobile devices in terms of volume. This results in the fact that unlike today's laptop computers or cellphones, multiple devices per application and per person will be possible and in most cases be requiredfor instance a home power monitoring systems always will integrate several wireless nodes. Similarly, personal health monitoring systems can embrace several sensors per person, measuring and transmitting different parameters each.

The market will continue to transform itself. By 2012, Mollenkopf expects 1.6 billion 3G subscribers worldwide. Over the coming three to four years, 3G shipments will pass 2G with the latter ones actually being expected to peak out already in 2009. By 2013, 70 percent of all mobile shipments will be 3G.

In the meantime, the transition to 4G will begin; its progress will depend on the way the operators' ability will develop to make money with this technology. Mollenkopf expects the deployment to start off in urban areas with hot-spot type of installations in the first phase.

In terms of technology, these applications will spur demand for integrated modem and microprocessor devices. "This will be a new class of mobile devices," Mollenkopf announced. Instead of voice or multimedia data, these new applications will be characterized by relatively low data volumesafter all, applications such as body parameters, heartbeat, or home energy management won't require huge data volumes to be transferred.

Automated monitoring systems, of course won't be the only wireless systems with a growth potential. Personal devices such as smart phones and mobile computing devices also are expected to drive growth. According to Mollenkopf, the hardware platforms will have to adapt to changing user behavior; future mobile communication and computing devices will be characterized by features such as 'always on' and 'always connected' as well as 'use all day'. Since this usage profile will merge the characteristics of today's netbooks and smart

phones, the company already has coined the expression 'smartbook' for this type of device.

With regard to hardware architectures, the current chipset business will grow into a system business. Integration will be key to this new approach, it will be critical to implement advanced functions and bring them to mass markets, Mollenkopf explained.

Qualcomm offers the SnapDragon chipset as a strategic platform for its wireless business, aiming at higher performance. "We actually do not believe the computing power for mobile devices will plateau out in the foreseeable future," he said. The company has multicore platforms under development which "will bring us to new levels of performance," he announced.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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