Android-based smartwatches may not be the fastest growing industry in the world, but Qualcomm reckons there’s still legs on that crowd. That’s why Qualcomm’s first new smartwatch chip in two years is geared toward a very specific market: Smartwatches for children, which run a custom Android interface.
The new chip, the Snapdragon Wear 2500, promises to be more battery efficient than previous chips, supports LTE, location tracking, and cameras up to 5-megapixels, as well as a bunch of other sensors. According to an interview, the Wear 2500 will also be about a third smaller than previous chips too — size being exceptionally important in a child’s watch.
Interestingly, the chips are not made to work with Google’s Wear OS — instead, they’ll be running a customized Android interface called Android for Kids that probably won’t have access to the usual array of Android apps. Instead, Qualcomm will preload the watches with all the apps that they expect will be needed by kids (and the adults who supervise them). There’s an emphasis on learning too, and Pankaj Kedia, leader of Qualcomm’s wearable department, intends these watches to complement the more connected lives that children lead today.
“It’s like you grew up on Alexa and you want to take Alexa with you,” Kedia said to The Verge. “You want to ask Alexa ‘what’s the capital of the U.S.’ or ‘who is the 35th president of the U.S.?’ 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.” These watches will presumably facilitate that need, and help parents to keep an eye on their kids at the same time.
The smartwatch market is still a fairly volatile place, and while Apple reigns supreme at the top of the charts with the Apple Watch Series 3, 2017 saw a lot of well-established names drop out of the race in favor of new kids on the block. So while the overall market for wearables continues to grow, it’s new directions and manufacturers that are being rewarded for their hard work. With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why Qualcomm chose to go this way.
Interested this new breed of smartwatch? Qualcomm is already sending the chips out to manufacturers, and expect to see watches with it come out later this year, with Huawei being named as one of the companies involved.