With smartwatches for children a growing trend, in China above all, Qualcomm launches dedicated chip
Smartwatches are a cheaper way to introduce children to the internet than a smartphone, they can’t surf as much or play as many games, and tracking helps parents keep an eye on them. New chip adds tap-to-pay and video call capability
Qualcomm is launching a chip tailored for children’s smartwatches, a growing niche in the wearable technology market, particularly in China.
Snapdragon Wear 2500 comes with 4G LTE and uses sensor fusion technology to deliver more precise location tracking than GPS alone. It is smaller than Qualcomm’s current smartwatch chip package, uses less power and supports fitness and activity sensors.
The new chip, announced at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, also runs a five-megapixel camera for video calls. It can power voice commands and geofencing. There’s tap-to-pay technology included so children can buy everyday items at school.
China’s Huawei is the first device maker to commit to use the Snapdragon Wear 2500. It sells a wide variety of smartwatches, kids’ watches, fitness trackers and other wearable tech gear.
Smartwatches for kids aren’t new, and Qualcomm’s current smartwatch chips already power 10 wearable devices for children. But so far, they haven’t caught on significantly outside Asia.
“It is a growing market segment, but not a growing worldwide segment,” said Ramon Llamas, a wearable technology analyst at industry research firm International Data Corp (IDC). “The majority of the kid-watch volume is taking place in China.”
For parents, smartwatches can introduce children to technology for less money than buying them a smartphone, Llamas said. Surfing the internet or playing mobile games is limited on a smartwatch. Because they’re wearable, they’re harder to misplace.
And location tracking allows parents to know where their children are.
The worldwide wearable technology market this year is forecast to increase 8.2 per cent to 125 million devices, led by smartwatches and fitness trackers, according to International Data Corp.
Over the next five years, however, smartwatches are expected to make the biggest gains in the wearable technology industry, with shipments doubling to 90 million devices by 2022, IDC said.
Smartwatches for children aim to be part of this market growth. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2500 comes with an optimised version of Google’s Android operating system.