Qualcomm’s New Smartwatch Chip Will Change Wearables

May 18, 2018 - 4 minutes read

Just as with any digital device, wearables are only as fast and powerful as the chip inside them. Whether you’re using a wearable that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) or connects to the Internet of Things (IoT), it always boils back down to the processor managing the gargantuan information passing through it.

Qualcomm is actively working on a new processor platform that not only promises to give wearables a boost in speed and versatility but allow for new capabilities never before possible.

The Future, Soon to Be Wrapped Around Your Wrist

The Snapdragon 2100 chip is the current powerhouse behind most modern smartwatch innovations. But since it’s been a few years, now’s the time to look ahead to the future towards a successor. This is exactly what San Diego developer Qualcomm hopes its new processor platform does.

Known as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100, is slated for release this upcoming fall. Its debut will be accompanied with a new smartwatch that shows off its potential. Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm’s senior director of wearables, stated that several of the company’s existing partners will be releasing smartwatches with Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 soon afterward.

The Foundation for Sleeker Smartwatches

So, what exactly will the new chip bring to the table? Qualcomm has been quiet on this; the company has also tried to manage outlandish expectations. One thing’s for sure — the new chip will allow for smaller watches. the Snapdragon 2100 allowed watchmakers to do this as well, but current iterations of smartwatches could hardly be considered slim.

Another area in dire need of improvement is the battery life of smartwatches. Currently, watches utilizing Google’s Wear OS struggle to even last a day off a full charge. Once again, Qualcomm has been silent about just how much its new chip could improve battery life. One strategy they’ll be employing is decreasing the energy consumption of the ambient time display. In turn, this could allow for more complex tasks, like fitness tools, GPS monitors, and even MedTech applications like heart-rate monitors.

The 3100 could be compatible with all wearables, not just watches, according to XDA developers. One prime example is Google’s next pair of augmented reality (AR) glasses. In particular, AR will be a big focus. The 3100 will be able to monitor parts of your eyes, like your pupil and cornea, at 12 frames per second. A potential application of this meticulous monitoring would be the ability to navigate menus with just the flick of your eye.

Making the Ultimate Wearable

While many of the details are foggy, Qualcomm has made one thing painfully clear: they want a chip that can satisfy both watchmakers and watch buyers. The company would like to see their chip utilized in a watch that’s sleek, sharp, and has all of the technical ‘bells and whistles’ to match its appearance.

But many details are in the dark, and it’s difficult to decipher between fact and fiction. The set fall release date makes many believe that the watch being released with the new chip could be the Google Pixel watch. Others say that it will be an LG watch. And then there’s a whole other group claiming that Fossil will also use this to build their brand in the smartwatch arena.

It’s fun to speculate, but it will be even more exciting to see what actually happens next. The time is ticking. And make no mistake about it — for many tech enthusiasts, the main function their watch serves now is as a countdown timer to this release.

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