The idea of tracking kids or older loved ones with a wearable band isn't new, but the devices out there don't have great battery life.
Qualcomm's new Snapdragon Wear 1200 chips aim to fix some of these problems by riding a middle ground between high-end smartwatch and regular fitness band. The new chip, announced at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, uses a different slice of your standard cellular network called LTE IoT, a technology that promises to be more power-efficient.
This technology isn't available everywhere yet. But when it is, these chips could connect trackers to the cellular network and last a lot longer. Qualcomm's previous generation of connected chips aimed at kid watches and elderly trackers, the Snapdragon Wear 1100,but required more frequent charging.
The new chip rides a lower-bandwidth internet-of-things network to increase battery life for watches that use it to once a week or even longer, supporting a more power-efficient standby mode while staying connected via GPS, Wi-Fi and cell towers.
Some Snapdragon 1200 wearables are expected to be simple trackers for pets, children or the elderly, not high-end smartwatches. Qualcomm is also targeting a next generation of fitness trackers that could make LTE voice calls and have music streaming.
But -- and this is a big but -- this will require compatible networks that aren't widely available yet. Qualcomm's starting with two reference designs from Borqs and Quanta, where the required Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1 networks, which don't allow a lot of data but use little power, are available.
Maybe, down the road, your kid will get a next-generation band that has one of these that doubles as a phone, and will only need charging every week. Maybe senior care centers could develop better trackers with this technology. Or, down the road, it could go into your next fitness tracker.
- Up to 10 days of LTE-connected standby
- Always connected via Cat-M1 and Cat-NB1 networks
- CPU: Arm Cortex A7, 1.3GHz
- Speeds: 300kbps/350kbps in Cat-M1, 10kbps/60kbps in Cat-NB1
- VoLTE voice support for calls
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 support
- Supports GPS, GLONASS, Galileo BeiDou plus Wi-Fi/cellular location, and Qualcomm cloud-based location services