Qualcomm’s Rob Chandhok Talks Software, Hardware, and Wearables
10/24/2013 by: John Oram
Rob Chandhok, President of Qualcomm Interactive Platforms, sat down with Kevin Tofol of GigaOM to discuss the horizontal eco system for the Internet of Everything. He shed some light on AllJoyn and wearable computing such as Toq (pronounced ‘talk’), Qualcomm’s new and different smartwatch.
Qualcomm Interactive Platform Pres (left) talks with GigaOM Sr Writer
Chandhok is very conversant in all things technical. In combination with his BS in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, he holds 22 patents in software technologies. He has been instrumental in many of Qualcomm’s projects and shared insights with attendees into the company’s philosophy. He told us that the purpose of AllJoyn initiative is thinking about all things near me. Qualcomm's goal is to continue building connectivity around the evolving standards and lead the industry into more advanced protocols.
Chandhok said their initial question was, "How do I make mobile phones speak to each other so developers could build multi device experiences?" The question has expanded to include consumer electronics and appliances. One of Qualcomm’s goals is to create a world of interoperable API’s. He noted that “the very first API… was the fact that you could fetch an image and that is how advertising started.” API is focused on services, things people would use. They stayed away from M2M because it will be highly regulated.
Qualcomm Atheros developed the QCA4002 and QCA4004 networking platforms which include the IP stack and full networking services on the chip to enable customers to add Wi-Fi to virtually any product with minimal development effort or cost. The QCA4002/4004 platforms also feature the AllJoyn software framework, which enables the "Internet of things near me" by providing seamless connectivity and communications among a diverse set of products, applications and services to create compelling, proximal user experiences.
For now, Qualcomm is pushing its AllJoyn standard for household goods, and not for the industrial internet of things (though Qualcomm as a company is offering connected products in non-consumer verticals). AllJoyn is designed to work over any physical layer. Chandhok thinks this is, “a course correction industry needs to take.”
He pointed out that the Internet is agnostic to the physical layer it runs, wired and wireless protocols on the Net. Yet, “on the device side we say: Here’s the radio you must use, it’s Bluetooth, ZigBee or Z-Wave." He continued saying that people who want to build experiences on top of that need to know all those radios or build boxes that have seven radios in them that result in a type of Tower of Babel. Here is a Protocol that developers can think about, people who build systems can map it to physical layers, and then we innovate on the radios. There are new things coming, such as 11AH for Internet of Things in the WiFi family. That needs to move at a different pace than upper level protocols according to Chandhok.
White appliances have a long life span. The question arises: where will the chips and daily communications standards be in the future? Chandhok said homeowners never have a single brand, and those items evolve over time, many are held long term, such as refrigerators. Tofol acknowledged the difficulty saying his, “home automation system uses so many different protocols. There is no easy solution out there for the consumer.”
Chandhok wants developers to say ‘There’s an API for that.’ He would like to see them compete on the experiences they create where they can say ‘I have a better home controller that works with all those devices.’
AllJoyn has been Open Source for over 2 years. Chandhok responds: “It’s a shocker to a lot of people that Qualcomm would do that. It shows how much we believe in it, all the way up to Paul Jacobs, the CEO. We want to stop single point, vertical solution, to make this eco system work.”
Why would Qualcomm do this? Chandhok explains: ”Qualcomm gains if more things are connected, we sell more connectivity. We are good at building connectivity; other people are good at creating experiences.”
The discussion moved from AllJoyn to Toq, the Qualcomm smartwatch which was announced at Uplinq. There, Paul Jacobs told attendees. “It’s a second screen for your smartphone, and it is always on,” That calls battery life into play. The watch design showcases Mirasol MEMs Display technology which helps battery life and provides video capabilities. The battery itself is in the watch band, not the watch. When questioned about battery life, Chandhok emphasized “Days, not weeks.” Toq uses Qualcomm-backed WiPower LE wireless charging, and connects to an Android phone via Bluetooth. The objective is for Qualcomm partners to pick up and run with this. Historically Qualcomm had produced inside devices, not direct consumer devices, such as their new smartwatch. Jacobs pointed out at Uplinq: “Qualcomm isn’t turning into a consumer electronics company.”
Qualcomm’s smartwatch has several different watch faces, one matches the time with upcoming calendar appointments, another that displays both time and weather. Toq can also control the phone’s music player, display text messages and send one of several preset replies. Designed specifically as a companion to a smartphone, Toq’s settings are controlled from an app that runs on an Android smartphone.
Kevin Tofol admires Qualcomm’s smartwatch, Toq
Chandhok continued with the benefits of Toq pointing out that “Watches are more jewelry, but this is more productivity. I may want to put on a different watch for fitness, fashion, or productivity. I don’t want my services to be disparate from each other. What does it mean for the apps on my phone to take advantage of another display or devices. That makes it harder [for Qualcomm] to do, but makes it better for the consumer.”
Qualcomm’s intent was to provide value and productivity, such as seeing the calendar at a glance, not having to use four clicks to get to it. Chandhok stressed that “Toq lets you pick what apps interrupt you on your wrist. If it is just a gadget, it is not interesting to the consumer.”
Below, we've got our own hands on with the Toq back at UPLINQ in September.
Qualcomm, Rod Chandhok, GigaOM, Toq, Mirasol, wearables, battery life, API, electrical engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, smartwatch, 11AH, Uplinq, QCA4002, Android phone, ZigBee, Z-Wave
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