Over the summer, Imagination reached out to 428 technology users from across our connected society as part of its Technology of the Future Survey, which explored user attitudes to new technologies, like wearables and the Internet of Things, as well as the social impact of technology on our security and privacy.

Some of the findings showed interesting attitudes to the way technology might be used. For example people were comfortable with object identification technology, but much less so with facial recognition technology.

One area that clearly excited respondents was the new market for wearable computing. Over 40% of the respondents expressed active interest in wearable devices, and only a quarter of them were positive they would not switch from a mobile device to a wearable (so the market could be up to 75% of smart device users). Two-thirds of the respondents who were interested felt that smart watches and jewelry would be the most appealing devices.

Google Glass: the headsets that re-ignited the passion for wearables

Google Glass has perhaps become the most popular smart glasses concept today. Considering its size and purpose, Glass has quite the horsepower under its hood: an OMAP4430 45-nm SoC from Texas Instruments which features a dual-core CPU and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU core. Being able to drive high-resolution displays while consuming the lowest power possible is how SGX made a name for itself, therefore it is no wonder that we will find more and more of PowerVR in high-end solutions for wearable devices.

 Google Glass Google Glass – the PowerVR-based eye-wear that started it all

MIPS-based smartwatches: the first wave of wearables

The good news is there are already MIPS-based smartwatches which you can buy from OEMs/ODMs in Asia. For example, the uPlay Z3 is an Android smartwatch with a 1.5-inch capacitive touch screen (240×240 pixels). It can run most Android apps and has gravity and gyro sensor which enable a variety of sport and well-being apps. uPlay supports both Wi-Fi (b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0, allowing you to control your smartphone and camera remotely. As any Android device, it is capable of syncronizing with your iPhone or Android phones for address book, time, SMS, calls, weather information and calendar.

uPlay Z3The uPlay Z3 is a 1.5-inch smartwatch running Android

Another interesting smartwatch from China is the GEAK Watch, a 1.55-inch screen at 240×240 pixels. It runs Android 4.1 and comes with Bluetooth 4.0. The GEAK Watch Works with other Android phones and syncs via an Android phone or Windows PC app. GEAK Watch has already shipped in more than 100,000 units and, according to reports, it will soon be available in more colors. Due to its growing popularity, the Chinese company aims to sell the watch across Europe, America, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia, and the Middle East sometime in early 2014.

GEAK smartwatchThe GEAK smartwatch runs Android on MIPS

Both Android smartwatches are powered by a 1GHz Ingenic JZ4774 processor that’s based on MIPS32 architecture. Thanks to the power efficiency of our MIPS32 ISA, both smartwatches require only a 500mAh lithium polymer cell while lasting up to 12 days in standby on a single charge. 

IP technologies from Imagination, optimized for wearables

Imagination provides all the building blocks for wearable processors: processors, graphics and vision and communication IP cores. On the graphics front, we offer the industry’s most scalable roadmap of GPU IP products; PowerVR G6100, the smallest OpenGL ES 3.0 GPU core we’ve designed to date, incorporates a range of power and bandwidth-reducing features that make it ideal for wearables. Furthermore, most smart glasses and other wearables that incorporate cameras need a feature-rich ISP; Imagination designed the PowerVR Series2 ‘Raptor’ imaging pipeline architecture from the ground-up to be optimized for integration into next-generation System-on-Chips (SoCs) for a broad range of imaging and vision applications. Highly power-efficient, and with a comprehensive configurable pipeline, ‘Raptor’ is ideal for low-power products such as mobile and wearables, and can seamlessly scale to provide the performance needed for UltraHD video, multi-megapixel photography and higher pixel depth sensors.

Companies looking to provide the best connectivity package for ultra-portable devices can now license our Ensigma RPUs, a state of the art RPU IP core for baseband comms. For example, the recently announced C4511 provides Wi-Fi 802.11n 1×1, Bluetooth and FM; other technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy) are also available and can be licensed standalone or in a combo configuration. Customers may choose to combine Bluetooth LE with FM for ultra low-power wearable applications.

Imagination_hardware_IP

A recent example of how companies how combine our industry-leading IP to address the unique requirements of wearables is Ineda Systems. Ineda is a developer of low-power system on chip (SoC) technologies for consumer and enterprise applications that is currently working on Wearable Processor Unit (WPU) SoCs which unite various combinations of Imagination IP cores in ultra-low power, high performance designs.

What do you think about Google Glass and the current crop of MIPS-powered smartwatches? Follow us on Twitter (@ImaginationPR) for the latest news about PowerVR, MIPS and Ensigma-based wearables.

About the author: David Harold

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David Harold is senior director for marketing communications at Imagination Technologies. David worked for several advertising and PR agencies promoting everything from fashion to valves before specialising in technology. David joined Imagination in 1998 and has been with the company though its rebranding from VideoLogic, its entry into the console and mobile markets, the launch of the Pure brand, and the launches of key products including Pure’s Evoke, Bug and Sensia, Caustic’s R2500 and R2100 ray tracing boards and Imagination’s Ensigma, Meta, PowerVR and Flow IPs.

View all posts by David Harold