Qualcomm targets home appliance makers for AllJoyn growth

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BARCELONA, Spain--Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is in discussions with multiple home appliance makers about its AllJoyn wireless proximal networking software project, and hopes by mid-year to announce partners, according to a Qualcomm executive.

In an interview with FierceWireless here at the Mobile World Congress trade show, Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Internet Services and senior vice president of software strategy, said the company is attracting interest from multiple parties. His comments follow ones he made at a press conference earlier this week, when he noted that he barely had time in between meetings with potential partners at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Chandhok declined to say which companies Qualcomm was in discussions with. "There are some pretty big hitters in white goods, global players that now see AllJoyn as the solution to what they're trying to do," he said. "We're at that place where some of the world's biggest consumer electronics [companies] are getting interested."

AllJoyn, which was launched in 2011, is Qualcomm's open-source application development framework for ad hoc, proximity-based device-to-device communications.  The technology uses peer-to-peer mesh networking to connect devices. Earlier this year, Qualcomm announced the formation of the AllJoyn Alliance to promote interoperability and develop consumer-facing marketing for the brand. The company also said it hopes to license the core functions of AllJoyn under an open source licensing scheme by May. Chandhok said Qualcomm wants "governance of AllJoyn to go from just being Qualcomm to being a consortium," and that greater interoperability will benefit the broader consumer electronics industry.

As an example of something that could be enabled by  AllJoyn, Chandhok pointed to a Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) effort that connects a Windows Phone to a car's speakers via Bluetooth. Consumers can hear their text messages via the car's speakers and dictate their answers back. However, he said, in order to enable that functionality, Microsoft needed to pretend that there was a phone call coming into the car's audio system. "Microsoft had to go through an arcane way and use something that was the way it wasn't supposed to be used," he said. With AllJoyn, the car's microphone and audio playback systems would work together to deliver the solution.

Chandhok said AllJoyn is just one example of what Qualcomm is doing this year to enable unique user experiences. The company also recently unveiled voice activation via its Snapdragon chipset platform, an integrated always-on, low-power listening feature that can "wake up" the processor by using a custom voice command (starting with a custom phrase set by an OEM, like "Hey Snapdragon"). Then the device connects to its normal voice interface.

He also noted that Qualcomm recently announced a new Android app called Snapdragon Battery Guru, developed by Xiam Technologies, a company Qualcomm acquired. The app works with Snapdragon-powered Android devices and uses machine learning to understand how a user actually uses their phone. Then it will shut down background data processes, for example, because the app has learned that the user does not check their email at a certain time of day, saving battery life in the process.

For more:
- see this Engadget article

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Tammy Parker contributed reporting.

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