The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 1200 will usher in a new wave of wearables

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 1200 chips promise to usher in a new wave of ‘long-lasting’, fitness, kid, pet and elderly trackers.

A major problem with the current crop of wearables is short battery life. The ones that have stonking battery life are stunted – heart rate tracking may be infrequent and screen quality may be compromised. The new Qualcomm chip, announced at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, aims to fix some of these issues.

So what’s currently holding back battery life? Its a combination of physical space are the chips powering our devices. Wearables are small in size because they are designed to rest comfortably on the wrist. Thus the battery needs to be tiny as well.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets for 2017

Rather than increasing the physical size of the battery, focusing on introducing smaller, more power efficient and powerful chips though is a viable solution. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear platform powers 80% of Android Wear devices globally. However, its last generation chip, the 1100, required frequent charging.

The Snapdragon Wear 1200 is a low-power chip that fixes some of the shortcomings of its previous generation platform. Rather impressively, Qualcom has managed to squeeze an LTE system-on-chip (SoC), support for 15 global RF bands and real-time GPS location tracking (including GLONASS, Galileo) in a physical space of just 79 millimeters.

In terms of connectivity, the chip supports two different subcategories of the cellular network called M1 (eMTC) and NB1 (NB-IoT), both narrowband radio technologies that promise more power efficiency. Qualcomm sees this new platform as ideal for low-power usage devices, supporting longer standby time while staying connected via GPS, WiFi and cell towers. Think always-on fitness trackers, kids and elderly trackers, pet monitors, smart home gadgets, etc.

The new platform is available to device manufacturers from today. We can expect to see first commercial products sporting the new Snapdragon 1200 in the latter part of the year.

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