While the tech world is dissecting Samsung's Galaxy Gear, Qualcomm is working hard to rise above the smart watch noise. Could its Mirasol display be the difference maker?
We've yet to see what Microsoft or Apple have up their sleeves for us to wear at the bottoms of our sleeves, but Qualcomm's Toq is ready to wage war with a branded smart watch that will hit the market in the fourth quarter of 2013. At launch, Toq will be compatible with Android 4.0.3 and above devices.
Qualcomm's smart watch is designed to serve as a second display for your smartphone. It comes equipped with Mirasol display technology, which the company is positioning as a revolutionary reflective, low-power display that empowers an always-on viewing experience.
A Digital Sixth Sense
Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Qualcomm, described Toq as an always-on, always-connected, always-visible wearable technology that gives you a "digital sixth sense." He said the smart watch tells you what you need to know, when you need to know it, with just a glance at your wrist or a whisper in your ear. But the bigger emphasis is on the Mirasol display and the WiPower LE technology that makes wireless charging possible.
"Toq is a showcase for the benefits of the Mirasol display, WiPower LE and stereo Bluetooth technologies and highlights the experience that the wearable category can provide," said Jacobs. "Toq not only represents a long history of technological innovation for Qualcomm, but it also demonstrates our commitment to delivering the breakthrough technologies that redefine the ways we interact with each other and the world around us."
The color capacitive touchscreen display is always on -- similar to a traditional watch -- with days of battery life before the device needs to be recharged. Qualcomm said the Toq's power profile is so low that it does not require an on and off button.
Standing Out From the Pack
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on the Toq. He told us Qualcomm may have finally found the ideal use case for its Mirasol display technology.
"Rather than competing against the LCD and OLED displays common in eReaders, the smart watch playing field is wide open with numerous options and possibilities," King said.
"Plus, the areas where Mirasol has trouble, like displaying complex and/or rapid animation, aren't likely to be a staple of smart watch offerings any time soon. Finally, Mirasol's high points -- excellent energy efficiency, good readability even in sunshine and support for color display at a fraction of the battery draw of other technologies -- should help Qualcomm and the Toq stand out from the pack."
With Toq, consumers can manage smartphone calls, text messages, meeting reminders and various notifications from their wrists. Qualcomm said it will continue adding functionality to Toq through software upgrades, including integration with Qualcomm Life Inc.'s 2net platform and the recently announced 2net Mobile software.