There was flash, booming music and appearances by MMA’s Alistair Overeem and popular dance collective Jabbawockeez. But today’s Qualcomm address was all business. CEO Paul Jacobs kicked of Tuesday’s CES frenzy with a keynote that focused on how mobile technology can improve our world in developing and emerging markets – from green initiatives to healthcare to education and economic growth. “2012 will be marked as a turning point in how innovation is used to solve problems around the world,” Jacobs said.
On the consumer level, Qualcomm introduced a Lenovo-made TV equipped with Android 4.0 and a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The demonstration was indeed impressive, showing off a slick UI and responsive voice recognition technology. But what really took advantage of the improved processor was the TV’s ability to produce “console-like” quality graphics; Lenovo showed off a racing game that looked pretty darn good for a game being run straight off the TV itself. Unfortunately, the TV only looks set to hit China at the moment, but expect similar devices to hit North America later this year.
Qualcomm focused more intently on initiatives outside of merely providing chips for millions of devices around the world, however, actively searching for ways to take advantage of technology to improve lives. In emerging spaces, Qualcomm is using technological advancements to provide important information to people in less fortunate areas around the world, working closely with local developers to build applications that can help better the community on an immediate level, and later on a global scale.
The company also outlined its efforts in the educational space through a similar approach Microsoft took last night in partnership with Sesame Street. Through Vuforia technology – an electric eye that has the ability to bring 3D objects to life – Qualcomm is making playsets interactive. Children can set up their Sesame Street playset anyway they like and, upon pointing a tablet device at their toys, the playset comes to life – it’s augmented reality with toys for an entirely new experience.
On the health front, Qualcomm is really putting a premium on its efforts to use technology as a way to drive the industry forward, from monitoring a user’s pulse through their iPhone, or watching one’s blood pressure, respiratory rate, and temperature with a wrist watch. “A mobile ICU,” Jacobs said. In addition, there are efforts to create sensors that can be embedded in one’s body that has the ability to detect a possible heart attack weeks in advance. If a heart attack is detected, doctors can call patients to warn them and take the proper steps to avoid the situation.
Finally, and the standout segment of Qualcomm’s presentation, was the introduction of X Prize CEO Peter Diamandis, who challenged the tech and healthcare industries to create something straight out of the Sci-Fi universe of Star Trek. Diamandis offered a $10 million bounty to the first team who creates a platform that can accurately diagnose a patient – sans physician – while simultaneously being “easy and fun to use.” Known as the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, the goal of Diamandis’ announcement was to “drive development of devices that will give consumers access to their state of health in the palm of their hand” through blood pressure, reparatory rate and temperature information. If successful, the Qualcomm-powered technology will be able to diagnose illnesses while also saving users unnecessary hospital visits – a win win for the mankind.
Overall, Qualcomm seems to be putting its abundant resources into initiatives outside of receiving the consumer’s almighty dollar. On the health front, the company is helping to make sure mankind is on the path to truly revolutionizing the industry, hopefully making the future of healthcare more accessible to the billions of people across the globe. In ten or twenty years, Qualcomm’s efforts just might save your life.