Qualcomm Cements Its Leadership in the Wearables Industry with New Accelerator Program

The Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator program will work with 60 industry leaders to support innovation.

Wearable technology is at the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT). “Wearables” are the modern evolution of mobile technology that allows users to interact with IoT through items worn on the body, such as watches, necklaces or even tattoos. Most people are familiar with smartwatches and fitness trackers, but companies use wearable technology to transform industries as diverse as health care and home security.

Recently, Qualcomm Technologies announced important milestones for its Snapdragon Wear Platforms, including the company’s overall vision for the future of wearable technology. To accelerate innovation, Qualcomm also announced the new Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator program, which will partner with leaders in wearables like Fossil, Verizon, and Zebra.

“Qualcomm Technologies is actively collaborating with its customers and partners with the aim of meeting the ever-changing needs of the consumers,” said Pankaj Kedia, senior director & global head, smart wearables, Qualcomm Technologies. “We are delighted to announce the Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator program today and have an ambitious set of activities planned. Our goal is to provide a vehicle in the industry where ecosystem members collaborate to deliver differentiated wearable experiences and inject new energy and innovation in this exciting space.”

Through its Snapdragon Wear Platforms, Qualcomm provides the technology that is driving innovation in consumer wearables. Last year, the company announced its most recent iteration of the platform, the Snapdragon Wear 4100+ and 4100, which is used in smartwatches for all ages. Beyond its Snapdragon platforms, the new accelerator program will continue to push the field forward to meet the growing demands of consumers.

Wearable Technology Is a Growing Industry with Limitless Potential

When most people think of wearable technology, they think of smartwatches. Many people have grown accustomed to the luxurious convenience of a smartwatch and its unique features, including health monitoring, messaging alerts and smartphone control. But smartwatches are only the beginning of wearable technology applications.

“The wearables market grew 21% year-over-year and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager, WW Mobile Device Trackers, IDC. “Innovative form factors continue to emerge as consumers demand new use cases in wearable devices. The smartwatch segment is going well beyond health and fitness tracking, expanding across consumer and enterprise segments, and further fueling growth of the category.”

Advances in wearable technology include the Disney MagicBand. A simple wristband worn by all guests in the Disney system of theme parks, the MagicBand is equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to facilitate communication with thousands of sensors throughout the park. The band can act as a credit card, a hotel key, and a park ticket and connect to the cloud to store professional photos, purchase receipts, and more. The MagicBand effectively makes the Disney Parks one giant computer, relaying real-time information back to the Disney team to help them learn more about visitor activities and usage trends to improve the overall theme park experience.

The Disney MagicBand. (Image courtesy of Disney.)

The Disney MagicBand. (Image courtesy of Disney.)

Beyond customer service, wearable technology is also transforming health care. Both patients and health care providers are using wearable technology to improve health outcomes. For example, people with diabetes benefit from a range of wearable technologies that can sense blood glucose levels and deliver insulin. The Freestyle Libre is a continuous glucose monitoring system that combines a glucose sensor worn on the back of the arm with a smartphone app to provide real-time blood sugar levels without traditional finger pricks. Similarly, Dialog by Artefact uses a wearable patch-type system that connects to a smartphone to monitor conditions that trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.

Wearable technology is also changing the gaming industry through virtual reality (VR) headsets like the Oculus Quest. Following the Facebook acquisition of Oculus, VR headsets are also being adapted to social platforms like vTime and are helping wearable technology influence how we communicate.

The growing field of wearables stands to transform how we interact with the technology in our lives. Just like smartphones revolutionized mobile communication, wearable technology will continue to impact how we use technology to enrich our everyday lives.

Qualcomm Technologies Leads the Wearables Industry

Brands across technology, fashion and other consumer industries use the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear platforms due to their processing power, sensing capabilities, and long battery life. With the widespread adoption of 5G networks, technologies using Snapdragon can provide rapid sensing and connectivity across smart devices and applications.

“Our Snapdragon Wear platforms are driving the industry, powering smartwatches for kids, seniors, and adults and smart trackers for pets and accessories,” said Qualcomm’s Kedia. “We are significantly growing our investments in leading edge ground-up silicon, platforms, and technologies and plan to roll out new Snapdragon Wear platforms across segments over the next year to meet our long-term vision.”

Over the past five years alone, Qualcomm has collaborated with more than 75 device manufacturers and shipped more than 40 million units worldwide. On average, the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear platform contributed to one new product per week over the same five-year period. Most people have interacted with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear platform through Android smartphones.

During its announcement in late July 2021, Qualcomm reported important milestones in its Snapdragon Wear platforms and emphasized its continued investment in providing applications for multiple operating systems. “We envision a hyper segmented world of wearables,” Kedia continued. “We believe Qualcomm Technologies has an important role to play to accelerate this reality by bringing together our platforms and investments to the ecosystem.”

Snapdragon Wear Platforms. (Image courtesy of Qualcomm Technologies Inc.)

Snapdragon Wear Platforms. (Image courtesy of Qualcomm Technologies Inc.)

Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Will Support Broad Innovation

Continuing its investment in the wearables industry, the Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator program provides a unique opportunity for device manufacturers (ODMs) and hardware and software vendors to work with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to accelerate the development of new solutions and commercialized products.

Through the new program, industry leaders will come together to innovate new wearable technologies, diversify the type of experience delivered to consumers, and develop these new devices faster and at a lower cost. It is an ambitious program designed to foster innovation in a rapidly expanding field to help transform IoT and the consumer-technology interface.

The accelerator program will be open to companies innovating technology based on the Snapdragon Wear platforms. The companies participating in the first iteration of the program cover diverse areas of industry and include Bosch Sensortec, Verizon Wireless, Arm Limited, and Vodafone.

“Vodafone is proud to participate in Qualcomm’s Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator programme, and its initiative to drive greater use and functionality of wearable consumer devices. Wearables are a part of the fabric of the next generation of telecommunications and will only be successful by combining the efforts of industry innovators in connectivity, semiconductors, hardware and user experience design. This combined effort will lead to innovations for consumers, such as Vodafone OneNumber, which enables wearable devices to connect without even needing a mobile phone,” said Phil Patel, global products & services director, Vodafone Group.

The inaugural Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Summit will be held in fall 2021.

What’s Next for Wearable Technology?

Over the past 10 years, most consumers have become accustomed to wearable technology as iterations of smartwatches or smart bands. As companies continue to innovate, a wide array of products will use wearable technology to allow connection as part of IoT.

The future will likely see wearables become smaller and more discrete, allowing wearable technology to be seamlessly integrated into fabrics, jewelry, shoes and other everyday items. Many companies are already paving the way with wearable tech. The next few years will likely see an expansion in consumer adoption of wearables as they become cheaper and more efficient.

SOURCE: Qualcomm Technologies Inc.