Aug. 28--Irvine-based semiconductor giant Broadcom announced new tools on Tuesday that it hopes will bring Internet connectivity to more devices in the home, from thermostats to refrigerators, as well as enabling an emerging category of wearable computers.
Broadcom's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips are pervasive inside tablets and smartphones. Now the company is hoping to use those devices as relay systems to put the Internet (and more Broadcom chips) into even smaller devices.
"Our bodies, as well as our behaviors, can also generate a wealth of data for wearable sensors to collect and processors to analyze. We're talking about things like heart rate and blood sugar readings, grams of carbs consumed and number of calories burned," Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor said in a company blog post. "We can harness the processing power of today's smartphones and tablets to negotiate all that new data -- such as vital signs, athletic metrics or sleep quality -- collected by a variety of wearable devices, which will help to reduce the processing requirements and power needs of the wearable device."
Broadcom offers combo chips that pack multiple wireless technologies into the same piece of silicon -- such as Wi-Fi to get something like an iPod Touch onto the Internet and Bluetooth to connect it to a wireless keyboard or headset. The updated development system for chips announced Tuesday rolls in a technology called Wi-Fi Direct. That lets two devices talk to each other using Wi-Fi without the need for a base station, which is usually a separate and stationary piece of hardware.
A $100 wristband, for instance, might wirelessly file updates to a smartphone about the number of hours in a day spent sleeping, or steps taken, and the smartphone can crunch the numbers to find patterns. Splitting up the work allows the wristband to stay inexpensive.
"For consumers, this means instant connections on the go while also optimizing power consumption," said Susan Vander May, a Broadcom spokesperson.
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