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When are wearables ready for mass-market adoption?

Posted: 01 Aug 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wearable? processor? innovation? Qualcomm?

Innovations including dedicated processor, interoperability, and aesthetic appeal have to be made in order to bring wearables to a mass market, said a Qualcomm executive.

The chip giant already has a toehold on this emerging sector with its Snapdragon 400 chip designed in to the LG G and Moto 360 smartwatchesboth of which were featured in Google's Android Wear debut.

EE Times sat down with Rob Chandhok, Qualcomm's senior vice president and president of interactive platforms, at Wearable Tech Expo in New York City to talk about the company's strategy for wearables.

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What will it take for wearables to really take off beyond the early adopters?

People wear different things at different times with different fashion, and rarely are people single designer or just like this look. What that leads you to is a place...where people need to be able to interchange wearables like they interchange jewellery in order for it to be mass marketed.

I want to, for example, take the guts of a Fitbit and put it inside jewellery holders. But when you do that you lose some of the functionality. There's the physical fashion side of it, which leads you to wear more brands, which leads you to interoperability.

So essentially what we're talking about is a wearable module, something that you can click in place?

What I want is a way to make these different pretty things talk to each other using the same protocol... thinking about open standards. One of the things that will happen with Android Wear, at least in the Google ecosystem, is you will be able to interchange multiple Android Wear watches and hopefully not have to reconfigure them every time.

Right now I have to configure a different application and they don't know anything about each other. I want the operating system to say 'You have another path for notifications on your wrist, how would you like me to manage that?' Google has chosen to embody that by saying here's the protocol and the operating system [the watch is] going to run, and I don't know if that's going to hold up. I think the protocol is more important than the operating system.

Pebble's Myriam Joire said that Android and Tizen aren't going to cut it for smartwatches, and you'll need something like a real-time OS that's lightweight in order to handle the speeds and dedicated functions. What do you think?

I think that's a statement that's valuable for a very short period of time. As we go down the process nodes, the power profile [of chips] will change pretty significantly. I understand the trade-off [of RTOSs] and value days of use, so I don't think having a watch that only lasts eight to 10 hours or only one day will be successful in the market place.

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