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Our wireless future will bring breakneck speeds and tablet-powered homes

Qualcomm WiPower Technology
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Qualcomm may be best known as the company that makes the processors inside many smartphones and tablets, but its ambitions go far beyond eeking out a few extra megahertz with each new device. At its Developer and Analyst event last week, I saw the company’s vision of a vastly more mobile world. Qualcomm even showcased the best ad for a processor (A Dragon is Coming) since Intel’s epic Bunny Man series of the 1990s.

Let’s connect the dots and paint the world five years from now as Qualcomm appears to be imagining it.

One device does it all

In the future Qualcomm imagines, you won’t need a Blu-ray player anymore, and you probably won’t need a TV tuner. The company showcased a 4K TV – the next generation in HD – running off of a tablet with 7.1 sound. That’s a center speaker in front of you, along with two speakers for stereo facing you, two speakers beside you, and two speakers behind you. A single tablet fed the entire system. But Qualcomm is also working with the cellular carriers like Verizon to broadcast live TV over cellular networks. This would allow large numbers of users to watch the same show, all using the same video stream and sharing the same signal, both providing real-time HD TV and preserving the wireless network.

The future that Qualcomm is imagining takes the wireless world we know today even further.

I think we’ll initially have some kind of dock for the tablet to pull this off this kind of streaming, but not for long. Folks are used to using a remote control, and will want to hold the device as a kind of “super remote.” With improvements in inductive charging (another technology being driven by Qualcomm) and wireless video broadcasting, your tablet or smartphone will do everything you need from the couch, no cables needed.

You’ll still need a wired amp for the speakers and a large screen running on AC power, but you could use your device to program both, and take content from room to room. You could, for instance, easily start the kids on a Disney cartoon at home, switch to in-car displays while you drove them around, and while waiting for them to get out of school, use your dash screen to catch up on the latest episode of Defiance.

Home automation

This market has been struggling to get off the ground since the late 1980s. Qualcomm’s vision is to move the ecosystem to Wi-Fi, then link all the lights into the true “Internet of things.” The result would be a sharp reduction in the cost of implementing home automation, and the ability to better use your smartphone or tablet to control your house through automated lights, heating and cooling, entertainment, and security.

Your phone knows where you are, so it could turn off all your electronics and temperature control when you left the house, then have the lights come on, the temperature of the home adjusted, and even you favorite music or TV show ready for you when you entered the house. Coupled with voice-command technology, you could adjust lights and change stations just by talking at your phone.

1000x wireless network improvement

Qualcomm plans to increase your wireless data bandwidth by one thousand times. Yes, one thousand times. They’ll do it by building little cell sites into Wi-Fi routers, then tying each of them into a network of micro-sites. This would allow folks to more easily connect to faster wired networks and increase the number of places you can connect to massively. The cost for the additional technology to be placed into a Wi-Fi router is apparently marginal, and people could be motivated to buy the new routers by promising better voice reception in their homes.

Qualcomm Web Vive
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This would be a future with virtually no dropped calls, and as long as you were near wired homes, businesses, or hotels, you’d have data rates you can’t even imagine now and on a sustained basis.

No wires

The future that Qualcomm is imagining takes the wireless world we know today even further. You plug in a device to the wall and it connects to some wireless network and just works. Connecting to a device thousands of miles away is as easy as it is in your home. In this world, anything you can see on your phone, from movies and TV to games, can be pushed to much larger screens. Your home and car can be controlled by your phone or tablet. It is a world of amazing performance, amazing experiences, and yes, some really amazing devices. Let’s check back in five years, that’s 2018, and see how close we get to Qualcomm’s future.

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Rob Enderle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rob is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. Before…
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