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Paul Jacobs Sees Data and More Data in Our Future

Bigger, more capable and extra-fast electronics are bound for U.S. markets this year.

That’s a message the Consumer Electronics Show delivers every January, but in a break from tradition, show producers had Qualcomm Inc.’s top executive deliver it in 2013.

Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of the San Diego chipmaker, told a Las Vegas audience that mobile communications were still on the ascent.

Analysts project that 5 billion smartphones will be sold between 2012 and 2016, he said. All need chips. In developing countries, Jacobs noted, smartphones take the place of personal computers.

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Jacobs also predicted that as the years pass, household electronics will pass more and more data to one another.

In the near future, he noted, there may be as much as 1,000 times the current amount of data circulating. That will require new infrastructures solutions, such as highly localized cell sites no bigger than a deck of cards.

In a 90-minute talk, Jacobs gave a look at products and trends the market could expect in 2013 — plus glimpses at the special effects in a couple of Hollywood’s summer offerings. Usually it’s a Microsoft executive who gives the show’s opening speech (and in a nod to tradition, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer took the stage briefly).

As part of his speech, Jacobs took the wraps off Qualcomm’s latest version of the Snapdragon processor for smartphones, tablets and computers. The model 800 is billed as the most advanced wireless processor ever built, performing up to 75 percent better than the current Snapdragon S4 Pro.

“This little chip is going to make a big impact,” he said.

Also coming to market is a model 600, which can perform up to 40 percent better than the S4 Pro.

The new Snapdragon chips have central processing units with fast, quadruple cores. They multitask, deliver cinematic graphics to their devices’ screens, and conserve battery power.

System integrators can get samples of the new Snapdragon chips now, Qualcomm said. Devices using the new chips should be on the market in the second half of this year.

Microsoft’s Ballmer was not the only guest on stage.

“Sesame Street’s” Big Bird, wearing a star-spangled tie and white shirt collar, helped show off an app using a Qualcomm technology called Vuforia.

‘Apps That Can See’

Software developers are using Vuforia to create “apps that can see,” Jacobs said. “That’s opening up a whole new world of opportunities, ranging from cool games and toys, to interactive books and magazines, to new shopping experiences.”

“Big Bird’s Words,” a tablet-based app developed in conjunction with media company Sesame Workshop, uses Vuforia for text recognition. The application challenges young readers to find words in the world around them. For example, if the app suggests milk, a user might aim the tablet at various containers on the breakfast table. Focusing the tablet’s camera on a cereal box will result in Big Bird’s voice, encouraging the user to look further. Hitting the milk carton produces pay dirt: the voice of Big Bird praising the child’s search skills. The app will be available this summer.

Jacobs also said Qualcomm may work with Sesame Workshop to serve the Chinese and Indian markets.

The Las Vegas show brought all manner of exhibits, from the spectacular (huge television displays) to the odd (a smart fork that warns a user if he is eating too fast).

SMK Electronics, a Japanese company with U.S. offices in Chula Vista, teamed up with Maryland-based Hillcrest Labs to show off a remote control pointer for use with smart TVs.

Paying for Protection

San Diego’s LifeProof was at CES, showing how its cases could protect tablets and smartphones from shock and water.

Analysts at the show got an eyeful. Dan Shea of ABI Research tweeted that 99.8 percent of all Internet traffic touches at least one Broadcom chip. Broadcom, which has its main offices in Orange County, employs about 700 people in San Diego County. (Broadcom’s show announcements included what it called the industry’s first 5G WiFi connected Internet-protocol TV set-top box platform.)

Joe Hoffman, a second ABI analyst, was in tune with Jacobs’ remarks about appliances talking to each other.

“Where’s my 4G refrigerator?” he tweeted from the show.

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