There are currently two major annoyances with wireless headphones: the Bluetooth can cut out in areas with a lot of signal noise, and battery life is mostly terrible. Qualcomm thinks it’s packed a better solution to both of those issues into a new chip.
“It’s a big step forward in the hearable category,” Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Qualcomm’s Voice & Music business unit, told Gizmodo.
According to Murray, the QCC5100 Low Power Bluetooth SoC reduces power consumption by 65 percent. This in turn gives headphones nearly three times the playback time compared to headphones with previous SoCs.
Murray also said the Qcc5100 has significantly better transmit power, which should reduce the number of times headphones cut out when you’re riding a packed subway or moving through a hellishly crowded airport. The chip supports Bluetooth 5, which was only announced in 2016, and just began to appear in devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Apple iPhone X, last year.
Besides these improvements, the minuscule chip has double the processing capability of Qualcomm’s former solution, which was found in popular headphones like the Jabra Sport Elite and Bose Free Sport.
This means that the chip can provide much more robust active noise cancelling and hearing assistance. For example, it would allow for some conditional sound changes like making sound softer when your headphones detect that an announcement is being made on a train. “We see this as becoming a general requirement,” Murray said. And if you look at the wide range of earbuds in the marketplace right now, and their multitude of auditory bionic features, you might be compelled to agree.
Currently there are no earbud makers who have declared they’re using the new QCC5100, but Qualcomm says it is working with a number of major manufacturers, and as its previous SoC was featured in the best earbuds of 2017, there’s a good reason to get excited for what the future of bionic buds holds.