Chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM) introduced a new, faster processor on Friday, in anticipation of 5G internet speed.
The combination of better chips and faster connections could make streaming data so fast "you'll never need a USB cable again," Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf told an audience at technology trade show CES in Las Vegas.
The new 835 Snapdragon processor, the first ever under 10 nanometers, can be used in mobile devices to power virtual reality, Mollenkopf said on Friday.
The new technology is an update to the line that includes Qualcomm's 820 processor, which currently powers high-end Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, LGV20, HTC 10, and BlackBerry's Android device. Qualcomm's 821 Snapdragon powers the Google Pixel.
Combined with new, faster internet speeds, phones will soon be able to do tasks like streaming live 360-degree videos, the company demonstrated during a keynote speech.
"It's an exhilarating moment not just for the technology industry but for everyone…5G isn't an incremental improvement… 5G will be a new kind of network," Mollenkopf said, adding: "Streaming video will get a lot better."
The 5G internet connection will widen the "pipes" that deliver data, relieving a bottleneck that's being created by an explosion of streaming, said David Cole, co-founder and CEO of Qualcomm partner NextVR. It will help virtual reality companies reduce motion blurs and allow users to "walk around" within a VR world without encountering errors.
"VR is the least forgiving medium ever created," Cole said in the speech. "Magnifying lenses in the VR headset amplify the error…disrupting the feeling of being immersed."
While virtual reality may not quite be mainstream, faster connections will also protect "mission critical" systems like hospitals from going down, and improve cybersecurity capabilities, Mollenkopf said.
For instance, more secure connections could let hospitals send stroke patients home earlier, since they could be monitored with wearable devices, said Jeroen Tas, Philips' executive vice president in charge of connected care & health informatics businesses. Or, the "internet of things" could allow artificial intelligence to adjust insulin pumps in real time for diabetes patients, Tas said.
Qualcomm is also working on a chipset, weighing less than an AAA battery, that can power drones who can work in warehouses or respond to emergencies. Faster chips and better connections allow these drones to save battery power and stay in the air longer, Qualcomm engineer Sarah Gibson said.
Qualcomm is also partnering with OneWeb — who has committed to create U.S. jobs — to spread internet connections worldwide. Shares of Qualcomm rose nearly half a percent mid-day Friday, in line with the broader markets.
"Today, billions of mobile devices with extraordinary power are uniting with advancements in robotics artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and so much more," Mollenkopf said. "We're already seeing the results."