Wear 2500: Qualcomm has a new smartwatch chip, bafflingly aimed at wearables for children
It’s been pretty quiet on the wearables front for a while, in part because there’s not a great deal of buyer enthusiasm out there. But that’s kind of a vicious cycle when the tech hasn’t substantially changed. While smartphones get an upgrade every year, the smartwatch (Apple and Samsung’s products aside) is largely based on a two-year-old processor: Qualcomm’s Wear 2100 chip.
Well, Qualcomm has already revealed that two are on the way this year, and the first has just been announced. It’s the Snapdragon Wear 2500, and the company claims it’s based around the wearables aimed at children.
You’ll likely be scratching your head at this point: what exactly is the difference between processors aimed at different age groups? My initial instincts is that speed will take a hit, but Qualcomm certainly isn’t selling it like that, boasting of the processor’s ability to keep children connected and learning even when they aren’t at a computer.
“It’s like you grew up on Alexa and you want to take Alexa with you,” Qualcomm’s Pankaj Kedia told The Verge. “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.”
To do that, the Wear 2500 chip has a number of tricks in its locker. It’ll feature a built-in LTE modem for phone calls; support a camera of up to 5MP for video calls; and provide GPS and geofencing support, so parents can keep an eye on location. All the while, the chip will allow watches to keep listening for voice commands to wake up the personal assistant. Despite these new features, Qualcomm says the chip will be around a third smaller and slightly boost battery life: something that’s very important for anxious parents wanting to keep track of their children.
There’s one more thing of note: the Wear 2500 isn’t designed to support Wear OS, Google’s smartwatch operating system. Surprisingly, Qualcomm has designed its own Google-flavoured OS called Android for Kids, which will be stripped of notifications and the app store, leaving manufacturers to make their own convincing software case to tempt parents to open their wallets.
Despite coming up with the OS, those manufacturers won’t include Qualcomm itself, which has already picked out hardware partners including Huawei to produce the first Wear 2500 watches later this year.