HONG KONG – While Qualcomm is as interested as anyone in getting a foothold in the smart home, creating the connected home amid the Internet of Things is a slow and steady process, according to at least one senior level Qualcomm executive.
“It won’t all change overnight, but slowly [and] steadily it’s changing,” Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management at Qualcomm Technologies. "That’s in part because consumers tend to replace their home appliances on different cycles. For example, you might buy a TV today and it will be connected to the Internet, but that doesn’t mean your doorbell and thermostat are connected. These types of things tend to be done in stages.
“What happens is you incrementally build different pieces of connected technology into the house,” Talluri told attendees at Qualcomm’s 4G/5G Summit last week. “The important problem that needs to be solved is how do you make sure that all these new devices that come into your house play nice and connect seamlessly and work well? That’s a fairly large problem and it’s a problem that we’re spending quite a [lot] of time working on. A lot of people in the industry are working on it.”
Some are skeptical about how it’s all going to work together given the vast number of technologies – Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ZigBee just to name a few of them – vying to be part of the IoT. Talluri pointed to lessons learned from history.
For a long time, the industry had the same problem with web browsers: Would this video play on so-and-so device and does this plug-in work? That’s no longer a worry and there are all kinds of different standards, most of which are handled via software translations from one to another. It’s no longer a BetaMax-versus-VHS kind of war.
Qualcomm's decision to work on a portfolio of IoT products and platforms comes with the knowledge that it’s not enough to have just one piece.
“You need a large portfolio of technologies to be successful,” Talluri said.
The IoT includes everything from light bulbs to drones, which are surprisingly similar to smartphones. Talluri said some drones are basically flying smartphones that can create recordings and have the ability to navigate point-to-point without banging into things – or put another way, act as smart selfie sticks.
At the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 in January, Qualcomm, along with Tencent and Zerotech, demonstrated a commercial, foldable drone based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight platform that captures 1080p images and streams them directly to Tencent’s QQ video platform, which is like China's version of YouTube. That drone was one of the first examples of Snapdragon Flight in a commercial product. Snapdragon Flight is based on the Snapdragon 801 processor, with GPS and 4K video capture, along with advanced drone software and development tools.