US chip major Qualcomm, that currently dominates the smartphone market, is quickly diversifying its portfolio with the internet of things. Qualcomm recently said in a statement that their chips for the IoT market which power small, battery-powered devices are now powering wearable devices, wireless headsets, wireless speakers and earbuds. With the sale of smartphones going down, Qualcomm is aggressively expanding its non-mobile chip sales to get revenue from outside its core business of smartphones. In an interview with Analytics India Magazine, Rajen Vagadia, country manager at Qualcomm India, tells us how the company is redefining mobile experience, their research focus in India and the diversification with IoT use cases.
IoT: The Next Big Revenue Generator
At Qualcomm India, the company has doubled on IoT by promoting use cases and helping startups. “For example, we have a big Customer Engineering (CE) team that supports these companies. Industrial IoT, Smart City and consumer IoT will continue to be the main focus areas for the next couple of years,” said Vagadia.
Talking about fostering an IoT ecosystem in India, Vagadia shared that Qualcomm Technologies is focused on driving IoT through its collaboration with established firms and startups to enable consumer and industrial IoT applications along with smart city use cases in India. For example, Qualcomm is collaborating with original design manufacturers and module suppliers to serve both consumer and industrial IoT segments, across applications like smart wearables, vision-intelligent cameras, extended reality devices, point-of-sale products and smart energy metering.
“We initiated Qualcomm Design in India Challenge in 2016 to encourage design houses and product companies to invent useful and innovative hardware product designs incorporating our chipset platforms and technologies. It has been inspired by the tremendous potential of smart devices and products that can be built in the domains of smart infrastructure, biometric devices, payment terminals, agricultural technology, medical technology and rural IoT,” he shared.
Growing Role Of AI In Future Mobility
With the future of mobility being driven by AI, Qualcomm is at the fore, inventing technologies for an intelligent. They are connecting to the future, spearheading research efforts for the next global wireless standards and collaborating with industry to make this future a commercial reality. With more intelligence moving to the edge, mobile is becoming this pervasive AI platform. “Building on the smartphone foundation and the scale of mobile, Qualcomm envisions making AI ubiquitous — expanding beyond mobile and powering other end devices, machines, vehicles and things. We are inventing, developing, and commercialising power-efficient on-device AI to make this a reality,” he said.
Vagadia talked about how with industry-leading technology in 5G and low-power heterogeneous computing, Qualcomm is uniquely positioned to lead the AI revolution. The leading SoC (system on chip) maker has introduced a broad portfolio of products across a variety of industries to make on-device AI ubiquitous and secure at the same time, on a massive scale. From efficient AI hardware and software to comprehensive software development kits, Qualcomm is collaborating with the industry to bring exciting new experiences to the world, shared Vagadia.
Qualcomm Research Focus Areas In India
Known for its continued leadership in advancing research in next-gen mobile platforms, the R&D team in India is pushing the envelope in semiconductor and mobile technologies, prototyping and standardisation across many industry verticals. “We are constantly pushing boundaries of what is possible with AI. Our research areas include 5G, AI, mobile, IoT, industrial IoT, connectivity, ASIC, cellular vehicle communications, wireless, autonomous driving, autonomous robotics, always-on computing vision module and virtual reality,” said Vagadia.
Their India operations specialise in wireless modem and multimedia software, DSP and embedded applications and digital media networking solutions. “Here, we are redefining the mobile experience and enabling new generations of increasingly powerful mobile devices while hosting one of the largest IP design centres in the world,” he added.
No Dedicated Chip For Driverless Vehicles Yet
Qualcomm is already a big player in telematics and also has a Drive Data Platform. But there is no dedicated chip for driverless cars yet, Vagadia said. The leading semiconductor company is currently focused on providing essential innovations for facilitating key aspects of driver assistance, including high speed, low latency connectivity, high-precision positioning, and C-V2X communications.
Case in point — wireless communications provide the vehicle with data that’s impossible to capture with other sensors. Similarly, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications complement other car sensors, such as cameras, radar and LIDAR, helping the car “see around corners”, detecting pedestrians or other cars when line-of-sight is obstructed by buildings or other large vehicles. Modems further help support the reliable, high-speed cloud connectivity required for sensor sharing and critical updates on 3D high-resolution maps and road conditions.
For high-precision positioning, Qualcomm’s technologies are designed to combine GNSS, accelerometer or inertial sensors and computer vision to cost-effectively provide highly accurate, reliable location data — helping an autonomous car, for example, understand where it is relative to other objects on the road and know precisely in which lane of the street it is in.
According to Vagadia, leading global automakers are using the technologies and Qualcomm has made significant R&D investments in process technology, modem, connectivity, machine learning, and on-chip compute processors. “One of our fundamental differentiations is tightly integrated, power-optimised computing and connected platforms, which we’ve brought to the automotive industry,” he said, drawing the conversation to an end.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.