Qualcomm’s flagship processor shunned smart phones for the first time last month when they partnered with Osterhout Design Group (ODG) to introduce their first line of augmented reality smart glasses in the R-8. Powered by the new Snapdragon 835 processor, it will open up a variety of gaming, entertainment and work functionality in AR and IoT.

On Tuesday, they furthered their footprint in the mobile chip race and padded their Qualcomm Network IoT Connectivity Platform by debuting a swathe of products designed to ease standard fragmentation. The processors also support Google’s Android Things IoT operating system.

Qualcomm’s goals in IoT is rather simple—to be a Swiss Army chip for all deployments, and to speed up current mobile networks ahead of 5G.

After all, by 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected devices in the ether for what is being billed as a $151 billion market; one third of executives admit that their companies actively deployed IoT in 2016, per Deloitte.

Jim Merrick, Qualcomm’s ‎marketing director for IOT, joined [a]listdaily for a video interview to explain why the Internet of Things is a great opportunity for the company to reach consumers.


How do you see IoT advancing and developing throughout this year?

IoT is such a broad spectrum of products. It’s often times thought of being anything that’s not a smart phone. It runs from something as simple as a water meter in your front yard that wakes up once a month, to connected cameras to smart watched that have its own cellular connection. Collectively, it’s really hard to even get your arms around it right now. Every one of these subsets in IoT is growing tremendously. 

How do you think IoT personalization will evolve?

A good example is wearables. Wearables started out will limited capabilities. First and foremost, it’s about fashion—the ultimate form of personalization. The watch that I wear says something about me, and my taste, and my character. Its functionality? Sure. But the style? You see that right away from 10 feet. Fashion brands like Michael Kors, Nixon, Fossil and Swarovski are bringing a lot of credibility into the [wearables] space. It’s all about making products for very different audiences.

What are the appropriate entry points for brands that are not in the business of IoT?

You have big brands and marketers like Mountain Dew using IoT to communicate their story, and that’s one way to get into it. You also have Happy Meal activations using augmented reality. They are very great. They are very engaging, and help people relate to the brand. If you want to become part of the IoT ecosystem, then there are many different entry points—most of them come with some expertise and a niche opportunity. IoT is coming from all kinds of different directions. Qualcomm, just to give you one example, is working with home appliance manufacturers for washing machines to make it more cost-effective with a touchscreen than with individual buttons and have it communicate over wi-fi to order its own detergent when it knows you’ve done a certain number of loads. It’s less expensive for the manufacturer, and it’s beneficial to the consumer because you are coming from an area of expertise.

Is the consumer education that needs to take place the biggest challenge the industry is currently facing?

From the consumer IoT standpoint, it’s learning how to identify products that are IoT devices. Is your thermostat or garage opener an IoT device? But then there are the industrial IoT devices in lighting and HVAC systems, or a smart car talking to a smart parking meter as you enter an area looking for a place to park. It’s a lot, honestly, for the consumer, and the industry, to get their heads around. As an IoT guy, I’m pretty excited about that, particularly as Qualcomm diversifies and moves away from the leadership we have been able to establish in smart phones and into automotive, drones, robotics, cameras, health care, wearables, and a tremendous amount of areas. It’s a great opportunity for us to reach consumers.

How is Qualcomm addressing this consumer pain point through marketing?

A lot of it does come down to 5G, which is about really advancing the speed and technology of the 4G connectivity—it’s also embracing other connectivity channels like wi-fi and Bluetooth to bring them into all one standard connectivity model that works for all of the different devices, so that consumers don’t have to think about which is which. It’s all about bringing it together under one seamless solution.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan