Dutch firm NXP Semiconductors, one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers, has announced that it has bought a stake in US chip giant Quintic, in a bid to utilise its expertise to help create wearable gadgets that have a much longer battery life.
One of the big problems facing many wearables at the moment, is that they don’t last long. This is partly down to the small form factor and the fact that manufactures don’t want to bulk up their devices by strapping a large li-ion battery to their wrist, but it’s also because the processors being used in their deveelopment and manufacture just aren’t designed with them in mind and are not efficient enough. NXP wants to change that.
NXP wants to integrate Quintic’s low energy chips with micro-controllers of its own design, which it believes will improve the efficiency of wearables by huge margins. On top of that,it will make them cheaper too, which is often a hurdle that people struggle to cross when they first look to pick up a wearable gadget.
Of course it will have a lot of competition, with the likes of Intel, Qualcomm, ARM and potentially AMD all looking to get into the lucrative and rapidly growing market. However, many of them may not opt to develop their own devices and instead offer their systems to established gadget makers like Apple and Microsoft, both of whom recently announced wearable smartwatches. Both of them too suffer from battery life issues. While the Microsoft smart Band can go a couple of days without needing a charge, Apple’s device has been quoted as needing a charge every day.
Comparatively, early wearable designs like the Pebble watch can last for days or even weeks if used right, but they were created more in line with the technology available at the time. While processors are more efficient now than they were when the first of its kind was released, we’re still far from the sweet spot in terms of performance vs battery life.
To help push towards that ideal, Quintic now has 65 engineers working on developing low powered chips in Beijing China and in its offices in California too. It’s not clear at this time whether they will all move to NXP facilities when the deal is finalised next year, but there is likely to be some merging of departments.