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CES 2024: automotive to the fore as Qualcomm revs up for new world of AI

Leading trade show sees latest steps in Qualcomm’s evolution into connected processor and artificial intelligence company, eyeing up a new computing space for its products and services

Qualcomm is set to hit the accelerator on providing bedrock technology for artificial intelligence (AI)-driven and connected devices that will see a wide range of use cases, including Industry 4.0 and automotive, which could be the next computing space, said company CEO Cristiano Amon.

In a keynote session at CES 2024, Amon observed that the overarching strategy for the company would be to tap into the growing world of AI in local devices. He added that the company was undergoing a fundamental shift in how it sees itself, from a wireless communication company to being a connected processor and artificial intelligence company.

“We have been very passionate about the role of AI in the devices that we carry. We’ve been talking about on-device [AI for a long time] and it our job was [to make] a computing engine that is going to make that technology run pervasive,” he said.

“We are at a point that those capabilities in the processors in the semiconductors are becoming available. The next step will be the development stages and the applications. The next form of computing, which is accelerated computing for AI, is going to happen everywhere. We’ve been busy developing technologies that allow you to do that without compromising battery life.”

While noting the essential part cloud is playing in the current digital world, Amon said he found it interesting how AI in devices was seen to be developing differently from the cloud. He said devices were the core of personalisation, with devices having more knowledge of users’ preferences and workstyles. Development would see devices having the ability to run very large AI language models, with billions of possible parameters for instant responses to queries. All of this, Amon predicted, would result in a change in user experience.

“You are going to have this assistance that is going to be there with you [and the device] is going to learn from your behaviour. And that’s where [the intersection is] about doing AI on the devices,” he said.

“When you do a query on the cloud, you provide some information [for it] to know you and to give you an answer. But when you provide the cloud and the device working together, devices will [have] context such as where you are, who you are, and what the relevance of that information is – and I think that’s what makes it all this very exciting and transformative.”

At CES 2024, this transformation was most pronounced in automotives. Having established a legacy of providing some essential building blocks for smart phones, computers and other business devices, Qualcomm is now gearing up to be at the heart of the new automotive industry, tapping into to manufacturers’ rapid increase in the electrification of product lines, leading to a sharp increase in in-car electronics such as digital cockpits, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and in-vehicle infotainment.

Earlier at CES, Qualcomm announced a range of automotive products based on its Snapdragon Digital Chassis platform to support next-generation digital cockpits, connected car technologies, connected services, advanced driver assistance and automated driving systems.

Putting the launch of the new product line into context, Amon described cars as a new computing space and that, by extension, CES is now “a car show, among other things”.

“There’s fundamentally one thing that is different now. I look at that as the foundation of many of the things we’re doing with the Snapdragon digital cockpit and some of the rapid success we had an automotive,” he said.

“The car is a new computing space – that’s probably the best way I can describe it. We have a number of examples of this at the show. Salesforce is embedded into the Snapdragon Digital cockpit, so you can do CRM in the car.

“Insurance companies want to embed their services into the car. You have distribution of television content, gaming...so the car is a new community space and that is a revolution that is going to create a huge opportunity for different companies, and Qualcomm provides that digital engine.”

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