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The Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program is a one-stop-shop of expertise and solutions, and a forum for wearables makers to collaborate.
That’s the word from those inside the program, who spoke to Wareable after the third WEAP Summit in Las Vegas in January 2023.
Building wearables is a hugely complicated process – with challenges on processor power, sensor integration, and data analysis, which all put enormous pressure on battery life.
And wearables still need to be comfortable and stylish to wear on the wrist, face, or other parts of the body.
The Accelerator Program is designed to simplify that process for wearables manufacturers – and bring together solutions from expert partners who are already integrated into the Snapdragon ecosystem.
The Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program launched in July 2021 – and the third Summit took place in Las Vegas at CES in January 2023 where Qualcomm announced they surpassed 200 members all with one focus: helping each other to nurture and drive forward wearable technology innovation.
We spoke to those involved in the Accelerator Program, to find out how the program is powering the next generation of wearables.
Qualcomm - providing a wearables ecosystem
Ally Choi, Director of Product Marketing for Wearables at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
“We don't want partners to spend time or money on areas that aren’t their core strengths,” said Ally Choi, Director of product marketing for wearables at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
It’s a simple idea, but one that can only be realized if you have a common platform that all of your members are integrated into, enabling the sharing of ideas on a strategic, and technical level.
The Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program is a catalogue of all the leading solutions in one space
“We want to provide a robust solution with an ecosystem that they can focus on their own differentiation – and they can spend their time and energy bringing their own differentiated overall experience in hardware and software,” she continued.
While some members of the Accelerator Program are wearables manufacturers, such as Fossil and Oppo, others include hardware manufacturers, mobile operators, cloud solution providers, system integrators, technology and solution providers that are focused on specific aspects, such as ECG, machine learning, gestures, or health sensors.
That means that the Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program, and its annual summit, is a showcase for wearables innovation.
“The 2023 Summit was a good opportunity for all of these partners to come in and showcase what they have worked on and how they have optimized their solutions on the Snapdragon® W5+ Gen 1 Wearable Platform” she continued.
“It’s basically a catalogue of all the leading solutions available in one space. Without this forum, it would be more scattered and less efficient.”
Goertek - Building wearables for the metaverse
Bella Bai, Associate Director of Wearable Product Marketing
An example of companies working together to get products to market faster is Goertek.
The company showed off its Gesture Control Band wearable, designed for use in VR, AR, and the metaverse; Swell, its Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 powered glasses; and Link, its smart band.
Getting its products to market would have required a huge investment in software engineering. But it side-stepped this by tapping into the Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program community, and rapidly accelerated its wearables’ launch.
“Nowadays it takes a village to put things together,” said Bella Bai, Associate Director of Wearable Product Marketing.
“You think wearables are small, but they are actually very complicated. You need suppliers, and you need to build a whole stack from component chipset services and software,” she said.
We went from the idea to manufacturing in 8 months
“The Accelerator Program helps drive innovation. I think it's because you put pieces together and people start to play with it and have ideas about something cool. It’s sharing wisdom and resources. It helps nurture innovation and build partnerships in a more efficient way,” Bai continued.
“And I think it's a synergy that the people you talk to already have something to offer on the table.”
“We started this project about eight months ago from zero. From there we completed design simulation, verification, and then manufacture – so that's a fast-track design cycle,” she said.
LifeQ – Advanced health algorithms
Greg Newman, LifeQ director
LifeQ is one of those companies that can help wearable makers bring top-level biometric features to their devices, without hiring entire divisions of health tech talent.
By combining its world-leading systems biology expertise with deep wearable engineering experience, the company has been a major player in health tracking for 10 years and can bring its health sensors, algorithms, and insights to the Accelerator Program members, thanks to its integration with the Snapdragon platform:
These teams have worked with every sensor, every platform, every operating system, and have learned how to get the best performance out of them
“One thing that really excites us about Snapdragon W5+ Gen 1 Wearables Platform is that Qualcomm has added a machine learning core. What that essentially allows us is to directly run these complex machine learning models, in what is the most optimal location from a power consumption and user experience perspective,” said Greg Newman from LifeQ.
And that means that LifeQ is able to scale its technology for all manners of wearable customers – offering top-level analysis of sensor data to a huge range of wearables device types.
“One of the unique advantages we bring to the table is that these teams have worked with every sensor, every platform, every operating system, and have learned how to get the best performance out of them for continuous sampling, and approaching medical grade accuracy,” continued Newman.
AliveCor – Seamlessly bringing ECG to wearables
Navneet Malpani, SVP at AliveCor Inc.
When it comes to bringing cutting-edge features to wearables, AliveCor is one of the most obvious examples.
The company has a long-standing history in wearable ECG, and because AliveCor is integrated into the Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program already, it can help manufacturers quickly integrate ECG into their smartwatches.
It’s the perfect fit. It's the most scalable wearable platform out there, so we could make ECG available to all Qualcomm's OEMs
“It’s the perfect fit,” said Navneet Malpani, SVP at AliveCor Inc.
“We were looking for a scalable platform we could provide our technology on. Qualcomm has the most scalable wearable platform out there, so we could make ECG available to all Qualcomm's OEMs,” he continued.
As smartwatches increasingly become health devices, the road to getting appropriate data for regulatory clearance can be challenging for companies. And for most manufacturers, an insurmountable one.
But AliveCor’s integration with Qualcomm via the Accelerator Program helps to accelerate the overall process to commercialization.
“Another component we bring to the table is that we are very familiar with the regulatory process. We have several products that have already gone through regulatory clearance, we know exactly what is required, we have the right expertise, and can help conduct these trials in a very cost-effective way,” said Malpani.
The momentum Qualcomm is building around the wearable ecosystem is exciting and programs like the Accelerator Program are a positive sign for things to come. It takes a village to build a wearable. And the Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program helps bring the village together.
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