By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Start-up Ineda Systems said on Tuesday it received $17 million in funding from investors including major semiconductor industry players Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics, as it designs low-power chips for smart watches and other wearable computing gadgets.
Ineda, with offices in Hyderabad, India and Santa Clara, California, closed its series B funding with Qualcomm, Samsung and other investors in December.
With over 180 employees, it is using the money to develop ultra-low power chips for wearable computing gadgets meant to function for up to a month without needing to recharge.
A major criticism of smart watches launched over the past year has been the need to recharge them as frequently as once a day, as is typically required for smartphones.
"In today's market, people are using smartphone technology to deliver these watches. That has led to good products but not to breakthrough products," Ineda Chairman Sanjay Jha told Reuters.
Jha was previously the chief executive of Motorola Mobility and chief operating officer of Qualcomm. Appointed in January to be the chief executive of contract chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries, he is highly respected within the chip industry.
Ineda is sampling its "wearable processor units" with customers and plans to begin shipping chips in higher volumes in the second half of this year.
The chips come in a four tiers, the lowest aimed at simple wearable devices like bracelets and the high-end chip aimed at advanced smart watches running platforms like Google's Android.
Qualcomm, considered the global leader in mobile chips, has been working on its own wearable components and has even launched its own smart watch: the Toq. Qualcomm is also supporting Google's recently announced Android Wear smartphone platform with its Snapdragon chips, originally designed for smartphones.
"Our investment in Ineda is another example of how we are collaborating with and expanding the wearable ecosystem," said Jon Carvill, a Qualcomm spokesman.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Dan Grebler)