It was two years ago when Qualcomm last introduced a new smartwatch processor. Now, their new chip has been designed for what Qualcomm sees as an emerging market of smartwatches: kids.
Last year, the chipmaker took a big step into the space of kids’ wearables with its Snapdragon 1200 platform, which was aimed at enabling fitness trackers for children. And this year, Qualcomm’s aim is smartwatches.
The new SoC, Snapdragon Wear 2500, is built with a few things in mind: long-lasting battery, an integrated sensor hub, a new 5th-gen 4G LTE modem, low-power location tracking, and an optimized version of Android for children.
Pankaj Kedia, Senior Director and Business lead, smart wearable segment at Qualcomm, says these watches are meant to help kids keep learning when they leave home and goes to school, where they aren’t always sitting by a computer.
“It’s like you grew up on Alexa and you want to take Alexa with you,” Kedia said in a phone interview. “You want to ask Alexa ‘what’s the capital of the US’ or ‘who is the 35th president of the US?’ or learn a different language, and voice assistants are making it easy for you to do that. Literally, kids in that bracket are using kid watches to learn.”
Location is crucial on kids’ smartwatches, and according to Qualcomm, the GPS in Wear 2500 uses geofencing technology, which informs parents when kids leave or arrive from places such as schools.
The Wear 2500 won’t power any Wear OS devices. It will be accompanied by an optimized version of Android O that can be fitted in a 512MB memory footprint called “Android for Kids.” The new chip, however, is not as powerful as the other chips Qualcomm will be launching later. The Verge says the OS probably won’t have its own app store, and manufacturers will likely pre-load Wear 2500 devices with apps and games.
The Wear 2500 is made to handle messaging and not only texts. The chip is able to support five-megapixel camera, which will allow parents to video chat with their children if they need to. In fact, according to Mr. Kedia, it supports two cameras.
Other built-in features include support for NFC payments and voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant. While Qualcomm won’t name either of those as sure things on smartwatches run by 2500, it’s up to the manufacturers whether they want to use them or not. Plus, there’s also support for gestures should there be any apps or games that want to take advantage of them.