Qualcomm CEO: Streaming video quality may make you question what’s real and what’s not

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf used his Friday morning keynote at CES 2017 to boast about Qualcomm’s leadership in 5G and provided a glimpse of what that world’s going to look like—complete with latency that’s faster than the blink of an eye.

Mollenkopf held up Qualcomm’s latest flagship processor, the Snapdragon 835, the first 10-nanometer mobile processor, which means its transistor is about 7,500 times smaller than a strand of hair. The device marks an important turning point in the industry as mobile—not PC— sets the pace for shrinking processors with the leading process nodes, he said.

According to the CEO, the tiny 835 package can deliver incredible new capabilities in a device that uses 25 percent less power than the previous generation. It has extended battery life, built-in security and new capabilities for eye-based authentication. But despite its many features, the hallmark of the technology is what it means to the immersive world.

“We’re bringing a fiber-like experience to a wireless connection,” he said. “With this kind of processing power, coupled with gigabit LTE connectivity, streaming video will look and sound so good you may question what’s real and what’s not.”

Devices featuring the 835 will be commercially available the first half of this year. He also said that the X50 modem, which Qualcomm announced a few months ago, is the first in a family of 5G modems that will provide an anchor to early deployments of 5G and will be essential to the millimeter wave systems that will start trials and deployments in late 2017 and early 2018.

5G will make it possible to trust the mobile connection for critical applications, whether it's a doctor remotely monitoring a patient’s status or a commuter relying on an autonomous vehicle, he said. Latency will be as low as 1 millisecond, or 400 times faster than the blink of an eye.

He also pointed to a new 5G economic study that Qualcomm commissioned that confirms that 5G will make mobile even more essential than it is today and its impact will be akin to the introduction of electricity or the automobile. Up to $12 trillion worth of goods and services could be enabled by 5G, or more than the combined consumer spending by China, Japan, France and the UK last year.

Qualcomm spent the last 30 years connecting people and every 3G and 4G device ever shipped contains Qualcomm technology and inventions, and it will continue to get the world ready for 5G years before the world can take advantage of it, he said. The company will be collaborating with AT&T, Ericsson and SK Telekom on 5G New Radio trials set to launch this year.

The CEO also spent some time detailing what Qualcomm is doing with OneWeb, both as a tech advisor and investor, with OneWeb aiming to extend Wi-Fi and cellular to remote areas of the world, and how Qualcomm is pushing V2X standards for vehicles, providing non-line-of-sight awareness for vehicles to see what’s coming down the road.

The keynote started with a video encouraging developers to get involved and highlighted images of major inventors, including Qualcomm’s very own co-founder Irwin Jacobs, and showed an image of him with his son, former Qualcomm CEO and current Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs, who is working with Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson on the OneWeb project.