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MediaTek wants in on smart homes, wearables

At Computex, the chipmaker announces a new system on chip for smart home devices and a new developer platform for wearables.

This reference design fitness band runs off MediaTek's Aster system on chip. Aloysius Low/CNET

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With wearables being the next big thing here at Computex, chipmaker MediaTek's announcements likely won't surprise anyone. The Taiwanese company plans to enter the wearable segment with a new developer platform called LinkIt that integrates the company's Aster system on chip, which MediaTek says is currently the smallest on the market at 5.4mm by 6.2mm.

JC Hsu, MediaTek's general manager of its new business development division, told CNET that the Aster will come without sensors, though manufacturers can add them from a list of certified vendors.

Hsu expects to see Aster used in smartwatches, wristbands, remote control necklaces, and even earphones. The Aster system on chip will be sold to hardware manufacturers in the $50-$100 (£30-£60, AU$54-AU$108) price range.

LinkIt will support over-the-air updates, and MediaTek will have reference designs ready for manufacturers to quickly pick up, modify and sell. The LinkIt platform is part of the new MediaTek Labs, which is the company's plan to engage developers globally to create apps and service based on MediaTek's products. It will support Android and iOS for now, with Windows Phone forthcoming.

The MediaTek Labs program will make its debut in the third quarter, and MediaTek is inviting developers and device makers to sign up for a notification when the online portal launches.

Of course, MediaTek isn't the only one touting the Internet of Things. Qualcomm, Google ( with the purchase of Nest), and Apple have signaled their intentions for connected homes and smart appliances. However, Hsu said he likes to see many different platforms and considers this development a "positive thing," with a larger market resulting in a stronger ecosystem.

Besides wearables, MediaTek is also looking at smart homes and has announced two new system of chips, the MT7688 and MT7681. The former is Linux-based and has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, while also claiming to have the lowest power consumption in the industry. As for the MT7681, MediaTek claims to be the world's smallest system on chip with built-in WiFi and is meant to be used in appliances such as smart plugs, lighting, and sensors.

On top of these announcements, MediaTek will release a smartphone app called Smart Connection, which works with the MT7668 to connect all your MediaTek-powered appliances together with Wi-Fi. It will run on phones using Android, iOS, Windows, and even Linux-based mobile operating systems. A MediaTek-equipped phone is not required.