The internet of things may be new, but Qualcomm is relying on its past for a connected future

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Qualcomm’s chips power more smartphones than that of any company and that’s a big help as connections evolve beyond phones to various future devices. The company sees a benefit to having such connectivity expertise in phone, because it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel for connected cars, appliances or televisions.

“The technologies in IOT will come from what the we’ve learned in the smartphone business,” Murthy Renduchintala, EVP, Qualcomm Technologies and Co-President, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), said at the Gigaom Structure Connect conference Wednesday. “We can use common denominator technologies in new packages for different opportunities. That lets us reconfigure the investment in our core business.”

But Renduchintala knows that Qualcomm can’t simply take a common approach for every single device the way it does for phones, because different devices will have unique requirements. “We’ll need a different, broad architecture for this. Some radios will need devices with five-year batteries compared to daily use batteries. And we’ll need to tie together radios for slow networks with chips that work on gigabit networks.” That helps explain why Qualcomm is paying $2.5 billion for CSR, a Bluetooth radio pioneer, which expands Qualcomm’s importance further down the radio stack.

The biggest challenge, Renduchintala said, is that with such network variance, we still have to get all of these billions of devices talking together. That’s where middleware and Qualcomm’s effort in helping to establish the open-source Allseen Alliance come into play. With billions of the right radios in place, a common protocol to communicate data across various networks is what will make the internet of things a useful tool, just like those millions of smartphones that use Qualcomm chips today.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

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