Chip makers seize opportunities in hot wearable-computer market

Companies are designing new chips for wearable computers but also dusting off existing designs that failed to catch hold

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

Reduction of component size is a priority for Google as it tries to bring a longer battery life to Google Glass, while making the wearable computer look more natural.

Google Glass runs on a dual-core ARM processor, but one challenge is to reduce power consumption when processing video, said Babak Parviz, founder and head of the Google Glass project at Google said in a speech last week at the Hot Chips conference in Stanford, California.

"What we have today is a good solid first step, but not enough especially for video processing. Because the more this platform is successful, we're going to be collecting more video," Parviz said.

Another potential application for wearable devices is the "Internet of things," a term used to describe data-gathering instruments with embedded processors that transmit small bits of information to larger pools of data. TI and Qualcomm develop such processors using designs from ARM, which is digging deeper into the embedded space.

As ARM looks toward the future, the embedded space, including wearables and the so-called "Internet of things," represents a tremendous growth opportunity, said Noel Hurley, vice president of marketing and strategy at ARM, in an interview earlier this week.

"The Internet of things does democratize electronics in some ways. There's a new fantastic range of microcontrollers. You can do an awful lot with 32-bit microcontrollers now," Hurley said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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