Whenever you hear about a new Android Wear watch, you hear about Qualcomm. Its Snapdragon 2100 processor powers practically every new watch that hits the shelves, giving it a kind of processor dominance. But now it's turning toward kids trackers.
At Mobile World Congress Shanghai today, the company announced the Snapdragon 1200, a new processor aimed at complementing its bigger, more powerful brother, the 2100 and the more basic Snapdragon 1100. The 1100 is used for kids and pets trackers, but the 1200 is more of an evolution, Matthew DeHamer, a product marketing staff manager at Qualcomm, told Wareable.
Essential reading: The best kids trackers for child safety
The 1200 takes advantage of new narrowband LTE technology that enables ultra-low power, energy efficient, always connected devices that can hold a connection at longer distances. It's also 45% smaller than previous designs, which of course allows for smaller kids trackers.
DeHamer said that American carriers, like Verizon and AT&T, have invested resources in creating LTE frequencies that can take care of the new narrowband LTE, and that they offer "aggressive" pricing that allows potential customers to add the trackers to their existing data plans at affordable rates.
Qualcomm has also teamed up with Borqs and Quanta to create design reference models. Basically, they're devices meant to show potential manufacturers what they can do with the new processor and what kind of form factors are possible. Kind of like how Google partnered with manufacturers for Nexus phones or HTC and Lenovo for Daydream standalone headsets.
So why is Qualcomm turning toward kids trackers of all things? Jim Merrick, director of product marketing at Qualcomm, said the company thinks its the next big market in the US, and could explode like smartwatches have. Kids trackers, Merrick said, are already a sizable market in countries like China and Europe. However, because carrier relationships are different in the US, Merrick said there's been a bit of a delay. He also said that the company is looking to create more specialized processors to enter new markets, rather than create more general, powerful processors that may be inefficient for certain devices.
DeHamer said the first kid and pet trackers utilizing the new chip could land in August and September of this year. It's unclear what kind of pricing we could expect.
Qualcomm is also partnering with Chinese company Xiaotiancai to launch the Z3 Genius kids smartwatch, which looks a lot like an Apple Watch. It's swim proof, it's got 4G connectivity, it uses a Snapdragon 2100 processor, GPS, and quick charging. Yeah, it's pretty dang well rounded and feature-packed for a kids smartwatch. It's set to debut in China in July 2017.