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CES 2018 : Day 2 – Enabling Technology from Qualcomm

by Cliff Raskind | Jan 11, 2018

Qualcomm staffers were busy bees on many fronts in 2017. Now going into 2018 the company is looking to make PC's act more like smartphones, blazing new trails in healthcare, nudging into RF front-ends and is at long last seeing patent disputes simmer down. With all that's going on, developments like the new QCC5100 series Low-Power Bluetooth Audio SoCs may not garner the attention they deserve, but should.

Qualcomm claims their new SoCs can slash power drain for music streaming and calls by as much as 65% compared to prior solutions. And thanks to an architecture supporting a dedicated application processor sub-system, dual DSPs, integrated ANC and next gen ADK software/ development tools-- it can offer rich development opportunities for vendors to add compelling new functions like virtual assistants.

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From a stereo bluetooth headphones and "hearables" enablement standpoint, the QCC5100 series in our view not only moves the size and power consumption needle significantly-- it also offers fertile ground for new product development and will be a catalyst for the next wave of true wireless designs (e.g. zero wires) and "hearables".


Hearables equipped with advanced sensors and interfaces are a subset of Wearables that SA forecasts will surpass 23 million units globally by 2022.  Key blockers to adoption for hearables are size, comfort and practical convenience.  In-ear devices need to be made smaller and achieve better fit if they are to be worn comfortably for extended periods and tolerated aesthetically. They also need extended battery life for convenience. These are key areas the hearing aid industry has understood for decades and addressed in highly proprietary ways for high ticket items. Yet as the hearing aid, music headphones and phone headset industries collide, we will need to see more open architectures that scale at lower costs step up to the plate, and this is where solutions like the QCC5100 series play and can make a meaningful difference.  

Beyond improved specs, an amazing new era is at hand where one can expect the simple act of speaking to always be met with a synthetic response, if so desired. While Smart Speakers are getting the lion's share of attention right now, ear-worn capabilities will also play an equally important role over the long run. The QCC5100 series also supports the "always on" listening capabilities to make this a reality.

We will be watching closely. 

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