With lots of focus on the new Motorola 360 smartwatch (above) but no technical details as yet, Imagination sees this as an opportunity to take on ARM.
"Imagination is the only CPU IP supplier announced by Google to be a launch partner for Android Wear – something we’re pretty proud of," said a spokesman. Already a strong player in the Android ecosystem, MIPS is one of the three CPU architectures fully supported by Google in every Android release including the latest Android 4.4 KitKat alongside ARM and Intel’s x86.
He points to the list of members in the Android Wear alliance which includes several leading consumer electronics manufacturers (Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung), chip makers (Broadcom, Mediatek and Qualcomm – all ARM licensees, as well as Intel) and watch fashion brand the Fossil Group, all looking to bring out watches powered by the new operating system later this year, but as yet none of the announced designs are MIPS-based.
However, this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, wearables startup Ineda demonstrated an ultra-low power Wearable Processor Unit (WPU) SoC that integrates multiple IP processors from Imagination, including MIPS CPUs and PowerVR GPUs. SpeedUp Technology has also announced its first wearable technology product, the SpeedUp SmartWatch that uses an ultra-low power MIPS-based CPU from Ingenic.
"Several of our licensees are working very hard to deliver MIPS-based, Android Wear-compliant devices that will be available in the market once the operating system is officially released," said the spokesman. "By being a launch partner, we will work very closely to ensure that Android Wear will be optimized for MIPS CPUs as well as our other IP technologies such as PowerVR graphics, video and vision, and Ensigma RPU radio processors."
Now Google is using its recent developer preview to give app developers the chance to experiment with enhanced notifications from apps such as weather, sports scores, and navigation for their applications to display on the smaller screen of smartwatches. For example, Android Wear supports notifications on a watch similar to how Google Now displays notifications on the smartphone. The next step for Google is to publish a full SDK that allows app developers to create complete, smartwatch-centric applications.