Last year, Qualcomm took a big step into the world of kids' wearables with the Snapdragon 1200 platform, which was aimed at enabling a generation of fitness trackers for children. This year, Qualcomm is aiming to something bigger: smartwatches.
The Snapdragon Wear 2500 is built with a couple of things in mind: extended battery life, a sensor hub with optimized algorithms, low-power location tracking, a new fifth-generation 4G LTE modem, and an optimized version of Android for children.
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Location is a big thing on these kids' smartwatches, and Qualcomm says the Wear 2500 has GPS that's focused on geofencing technology, which is important because it allows parents to know when kids leave or arrive from areas like schools.
The Wear 2500 is built for messaging, and not just for texts. The chip supports a five-megapixel camera so that parents can video chat with their children if they need to. In fact, Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm's senior director and business lead for wearables, says it supports two cameras.
Other features built into the Wear 2500 include support for NFC payments and voice assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa. While Qualcomm won't name either of those as sure things on smartwatches based on the 2500, it'll be up to manufacturers whether they want to use them or not. Plus, there's support for gestures should there be any apps or games that want to take advantage of them.
Huawei will be the lead partner on the Wear 2500 platform, and Qualcomm is going to ship sample smartwatches to manufacturing partners so that they can see how this whole thing works. The full development kit will be available in the third quarter of 2018.
We've seen a number of kids' fitness trackers, but kids' smartwatches have been a growing market for the past couple of years, first starting in China and slowly growing out to other markets more recently. As the adult wearable world shifts toward smartwatches, it makes sense that the children wearable market shifts the same way.
For Qualcomm, the 2500 is more about creating a platform that's more suited to a children's smartwatch than the status quo, Kedia tells Wareable. Kids' smartwatches and adult smartwatches have different needs. For instance, adult smartwatches don't have to be focused on things like geofencing, video chat or games. Those features are better off when the underlying hardware is tuned specifically for those features, like it is on the Wear 2500.
One thing to keep an eye on is the big elephant in the technology room: Privacy. When asked about how Qualcomm's Wear 2500 would help protect sensitive information about children, it pointed out that the company must adhere to children's data laws. It also points to the five things Qualcomm holds as pillars of IoT security: software integrity, data protection, device authentication, firmware upgrades and user authentication. So while the Wear 2500 doesn't do anything different to make sure it protects kids, Qualcomm says it'll apply its current strategy to the wearables.