NXP opens wallet to build wearables with better battery life

PCWorld News

To help it improve the battery life of next-generation smartwatches and fitness bands, NXP Semiconductors has acquired part of U.S. chip maker Quintic.

Most existing wearables suffer from bad battery life, so any improvement in that regard would be a step in the right direction. NXP has bought assets and intellectual property related to Quintic’s BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) business. BLE is used by wearables and “Internet of things” type sensors to communicate.

With the acquisition, NXP can integrate Quintic’s Low Energy technology with its own microcontrollers, for example, to cut costs and improve energy efficiency. That would make NXP’s chipsets more attractive to manufacturers, who theoretically could use them to build cheaper smartwatches and other wearables with better battery life.

Financial details of the deal were not announced.

The growing battle over the opportunity to power upcoming wearables should help speed up product improvements. At the recent Electronica conference in Germany, a number of vendors demonstrated components that they were working on, and improved energy efficiency was the common theme.

Battery life will have an effect on the popularity of wearables and the development of the so-called Internet of things—appliances and objects that are connected to the Internet via sensors. That’s because many of the devices run on batteries, and battery life will determine how affordable and practical it will be to deploy them, Matt Hatton, director at Machina Research, said in a recent interview.

The Quintic wearable team consists of approximately 65 engineers located in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai in China and in Sunnyvale, California. The engineers along with executives are expected to join NXP when the transaction closes during the first three months of next year.

Intellectual property assets, including more than 60 U.S. and Chinese patents, also form part of the transaction, according to NXP.

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