Qualcomm sets pulses racing at MWC Shanghai with new sensors, platforms

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A security sensor that unlocks with the help of a heartbeat was among the flurry of products Qualcomm launched at Mobile World Congress Shanghai.

While the chipset maker unveiled new smartphone and wearable platforms, it was its sensor technology that was the most noteworthy.

The new fingerprint sensors can work across display, glass and metal formats, and also have the ability to detect directional gestures, match fingerprints underwater and unlock devices by recognising a person's heartbeat and blood flow.

The ultrasound technology ensures that a fingerprint is coming from someone with a pulse rather than through other means.

The sensors can be used in conjunction with Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile platforms or those from other manufacturers. The first devices carrying the new sensors are expected by the end of June 2018.

Seshu Madhavapeddy, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, said: “We are excited to announce Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensors because they can be designed to support sleeker, cutting-edge form factors, unique mobile authentication experiences, and enhanced security authentication.

“This provides OEMs and operators with the ability to offer truly distinct, differentiated devices with added value on truly groundbreaking new devices.”

Meanwhile, Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 450 Mobile Platform is firmly aimed at mid-range smartphones and tablets and brings improvements to LTE connectivity, battery life, graphics and compute performance compared to older generations of its chipsets.

The octa-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU increases the platform's performance by a quarter, compared to the 435 Mobile Platform.

Battery life has been improved by 30 percent and the platform also supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology.

The 2x20MHz carrier aggregation support will allow downlink speeds of up to 300MBps and uplink of 150MBps.

Commercial sampling will start in the third quarter of this year with the first consumer devices running on the platform hitting the market by the end of 2017.

Finally, a new wearables platform supports the use of LTE-M and NB-IoT for the first time. The Snapdragon Wear 1200 platform, which launched today (28 June), supports 15 frequency bands that are used by operators globally.

It supports location-based technologies including GPS, GLONASS, Gallileo and BeiDou, as well as Wi-Fi and cellular.

Qualcomm said more than 150 wearable products now use its platforms. The chipset maker's Snapdragon Wear platform is used on more than 80 percent of smart devices running Android Wear.

Pankaj Kedia, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, said: “The smart wearables industry continues to grow with prolific innovation across targeted opportunities such as kids, pets, elderly, and fitness.

"To effectively scale, these opportunities require ultra-low power, highly energy efficient, always connected, and cost-efficient solutions."