Engineer-turned-chief-executive Paul Jacobs gave a frank assessment of Toq, Qualcomm's new smart watch.
"It was my pet project for a while," Jacobs said in a press Q&A. "When you're the CEO it's not like you can get into the guts of a lot of things, so it was fun for me to get into this with the engineers," he said.
Jacobs worked on two iterations of Toq before releasing it at the Uplinq conference here as a "limited edition" product with a single planned production run of less than 100,000 units. The Bluetooth-only device is optimized to work with Android smartphones as a secondary display
Qualcomm won't become a consumer electronics company selling to mass markets like Microsoft with its Surface tablet or XBox consoles. Nevertheless, Toq has a few serious goals.
The smart watch is meant to showcase three Qualcomm technologies: its AllJoyn messaging protocol for the Internet of Things, its WiPower LE wireless charging and its Mirasol reflective displays.
"I invested in Mirasol because I wanted a low-power display," Jacobs said. "The phone is doing things all the time, you just can't tell because the display is off, so I wanted an always-on display getting lots of notifications," he said.
Mirasol initially targeted e-books. But the market split into high-res tablets with e-reader apps and low-end models with black-and-white displays. Mirasol's middle market evaporated.
Now Qualcomm hopes the display technology could find a home in wearables, such as smart watches other companies make. Thus Toq is a way to "set a benchmark for a wearable display… We're about enabling technology," said Jacobs.
Paul Jacobs announced the Toq watch at Uplinq.