Qualcomm Widens Its IoT-as-a-Service Model

Builds on its smart cities offering and updates its IoT platform

At its Smart Cities Accelerate 2021 event a couple of weeks ago, Qualcomm launched a larger set of software and management tools for the Internet of things (IoT). These as-a-service solutions are aimed at 30 areas including healthcare, agriculture, education, drone inspection, traffic management and asset tracking. The move is a major expansion of the Qualcomm IoT Services Suite, which was initially rolled out in December 2020 and limited to smart cities and spaces, education, construction management, logistics and some parts of healthcare. The launch also represents a significant expansion of the company’s IoT partner programme.

The new IoT solutions take aim at areas including:

  • Inspection using drones, in conjunction with FlightOps, for construction sites, safety and security missions, first responders, and to help with response to natural disasters;
  • Asset management, working with Tag-N-Trac, Cloudleaf and Mobilogix, for improved tracking, compliance and efficiency to improve visibility in logistics and supply chain uses;
  • Traffic management, by teaming with NoTraffic, to optimize traffic signals, reduce congestion and improve safety, as well as to plan for and be notified about events and emergencies;
  • Venues, working with The Indoor Lab to provide privacy-compliant safety, security and space optimization systems by using lidar.

Qualcomm has been developing a suite of software modules with real-time visualization, geospatial visualization and integration of multiple systems and data points. New tools include drag-and-drop deployment with low-code development, automated device onboarding and management, streamlined device configuration, a customizable user interface and specific workflows for the 30 different services. Artificial intelligence at the network edge and cloud integration are also supported to get digital twins using data from artificial intelligence-enabled cameras and lidar sensors.

In addition to its offerings for specific use cases, Qualcomm announced improvements to its horizontal collection of IoT services for sectors, such as governments and enterprises, that may not have large software development teams.

The Qualcomm IoT Services Suite was a significant initiative for the company, helping it to evolve from being mainly a component supplier for IoT markets to starting to offer customers fully designed, developed and tested systems to address important applications, built collaboratively with its expanding group of IoT partners, which now includes 400 companies. This shift from component supply to fully specified systems is extremely important from customers’ perspective. Qualcomm’s focus on partners has a long way to go, but will play a big role in widening its reach and relationships into multiple sectors and countries.

The initiative also saw the start of Qualcomm’s as-a-service approach in IoT, a crucial move that lowered entry barriers for customers by reducing technical and commercial risks, making budgeting easier and speeding implementation. It also changed the nature of IoT sales for Qualcomm into monthly recurring revenue.

As organizations coped with the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for IoT technology has grown rapidly, especially over the past 12 months, with several players including Qualcomm reporting high growth rates for their IoT businesses in their latest financial results. The company didn’t give a specific update about how sales of its IoT-as-a-service solutions are doing, but it’s a large vote of confidence to see it now rounding out its service portfolio to address a much wider range of areas.