One of the biggest problems with the world of wearables right now, is how to power them effectively. While taking your phone out of your pocket to charge it isn’t much of a big deal, doing so with a wearable is much more so, since it requires removing it and that means a pause in its data collection. That’s fine with activity trackers even, but some wearables are designed with consistent recording in mind, so figuring out how to give them as much charge as possible is paramount for developers.
However, their job may be about to get a lot easier, as Ineda Systems, a Qualcomm and Samsung funded startup, is currently testing two new chip designs which could give wearable devices a massively extended run time. Working in a similar fashion to many high end smartphone and tablets, the chip is designed to sit alongside the main wearable processor, taking over when the processing oompf of the main chip isn’t required, thereby conserving battering whilst maintaining basic functions. Typically wearables are passively collecting data for 90 per cent of their operation, so this could end up giving us wearables with much longer battery lives, simply by making them more efficient.
There’s also potential there for more powerful wearables too, as if there’s a particularly heavy usage scenario, then there could be a way for Ineda’s chip to operate at the same time as the main wearable processor, giving it a bit more to work with.
It’s no real surprise that Ineda has developed this hardware though, as it announced a line of bespoke wearable chips called Dhanush earlier this year, which was set to include four different chips, all with a wearable focus. These Systems on a Chip will come in several flavours, some aimed at improving performance, others at reducing power draw. The one at the top end is known as the “Advanced,” and is going to target high-end smart-watches, taking the fight to big performance chip makers like Nvidia.
For the low-power chips though, it seems likely that it will first be trialled in smartphones rather than wearables. Though it’s not been announced who will get the first batch, it seems likely to be Samsung since it is such a major investor.
However Ineda faces stiff competition from not only major funder Qualcomm, but from the likes of Intel and mobile chip giant ARM, which has also recently announced an intention to produce low power drawing CPUs for wearable devices.[Thanks TechReview]