Qualcomm: Interoperability, community keys to wearable technology success

Current simplified gadget-to-cloud model that, while impressive, creates headaches for users, Qualcomm exec says

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Qualcomm senior vice president of interactive platforms Rob Chandhok

A full and healthy ecosystem of products and services built around wearable technology will require major efforts to ensure interoperability, according to Qualcomm senior vice president of interactive platforms Rob Chandhok.

Speaking at the Wearable Tech Expo in New York on Thursday, Chandhok said that designs have focused on a simplified gadget-to-cloud model that, while impressive, creates headaches for users. He compared it to a connected home system that requires separate apps for each light switch, because each API is different.

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“I think that, over time, what we’re going to end up with is a much more complex system,” Chandhok said.

To spur broad-based consumer adoption, multiple brands will need to have a seat at the table, he added, in a complex and highly interoperable web of products and services.

The cloud’s role as one of the one of the buzzier technologies of the moment prompts designers and developers to integrate it into their products, but that isn’t always the right move, according to Chandhok.

For one thing, he said, there’s an issue of privacy. Wearables are even more intimately connected to us than smartphones, and it’s unclear how comfortable users might be with data sourced from wearables moving casually across the Internet.

“There may be things in the wearable domain that I just want to stay local,” said Chandhok. “I might not WANT that information flowing back to the cloud.”

Qualcomm’s presence in the wearable space is substantial – as a crucial system-on-a-chip OEM, the company’s silicon powers a large proportion of smartphones (most wearables depend on smartphones for Internet connectivity) on the market, and its own Toq smartwatch launched to widespread buzz late last year.

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