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September 6th 2013 4:44 pm

Smartwatches everywhere

Smartwatches are all the rage right now at IFA 2013. Everywhere you turn, someone is making a new accessory for your wrist. In the last few days, we've seen a number of companies announce new smartwatches:
  • Qualcomm Toq: This uses a new energy efficient display technology from Qualcomm (named Mirasol) that allows the 1.5-inch screen to stay on while using minimal amounts of energy. It's like color e-ink, but not exactly. It sounds like Qualcomm is looking for hardware partners to pick up this device and run with it and this is more of a proof of concept type of thing. Hands on impressions via Engadget:
  • Samsung Galaxy Gear: Finally, you can live out your Dick Tracy fantasies! This watch features a 1.63-inch AMOLED touch screen and a 1.9 megapixel camera (what?). Engadget's initial impressions were less than thrilled: www.engadget.com­/2013­/09­/04­/galaxy­-gear­-hands­-on/
  • Sony Smartwatch 2: This 1.6-inch watch pairs to Android phones running Ice Cream Sandwich or later and offers a limited number of apps. You can find out more in Engadget's hands on: www.engadget.com­/2013­/09­/04­/sony­-smartwatch­-2­/­?utm...
Is the demand for smartwatches that large? Last year, Pebble announced their e-ink smartwatch on Kickstarter. It quickly gained traction and they met their funding goal within 2 hours of going live. It would ultimately rack up 275,000 preorders!

Are you interested in getting a smartwatch or do you have one already? What is appealing about it for you? What would you put in your ideal smartwatch? Lastly, what do companies need to do in order for these devices to be taken seriously by consumers.

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As the owner of a Pebble, the only thing I really want from a smartwatch is official integration with my mobile OS of choice. Though the Pebble team has obviously done a lot of work to ensure a good experience for users, it isn't a device that's explicitly supported or designed for any one platform.

On one hand, this is a good thing. It means you can go from manufacturer to manufacturer and still utilize your $100+ purchase. On the other, it means that many of the features are half-baked, and don't work how they ideally should.

As a predominately iOS user, I'm hoping Apple's smartwatch offers better integration with iOS than the Pebble does. This is probably a given, but I just have to imagine that both Apple and Google could better design and implement a smartwatch for their respect platforms better than the Pebble team.

Don't get me wrong, the Pebble is great, but the black and white display, lack of extensive features, and issues presented by its lack of deep integration with either OS prevent it from reaching its full potential.

In my ideal smartwatch, I'd have a pedometer, altimeter, sleep tracker, OLED display, and native integration with its platform. For iOS, I'd like apps that allow me to control music, look at texts, emails, and accept calls, as well as developer support for additional apps. Yes, the Pebble can do most of these things, but above all, for people to accept this as a new platform, I think the watch needs to do them extremely well, and look extremely good doing them.

The Pebble's design is okay, and it's implementation is okay, but I think both Apple and Google could take the billions at their disposal and really make magic in this category.
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I bet the Swiss are unhappy.

Interestingly enough, I am guessing more people would want to spend $3-500 on a smartwatch than a luxury watch that you would see in Esquire.

I wonder if the smartwatch will be the happy medium on the way to something like Google Glass. Both offer somewhat similar functions if you think about it, but the smartwatch is less obtrusive into your view and others' view of you.

Thoughts aside, I am not interested in a smartwatch. The only use case I really see myself wanting it for would be to check notifications in long meetings at work. Realistically I probably don't need a gadget to solve my OCD after my phone vibrates in my pocket.

If I were to want one, it would have to have a long battery life, upwards of a week, or self charging. (Think self-winding watch). Waterproof, Looks good, Will have compatibility of future phones, Not try do too much (does a watch really need a camera?)

If I was in grade school still I would totally want one for reading messages and cheating on tests :)
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I think I disagree with your first statement. For most people who wear watches, I think form is the primary reason. Considering everyone wearing a watch these days probably also has a phone with all the same information in their pocket, the only real reason to be wearing that watch is as a fashion accessory.

There's probably a large enough market for smartwatches that pursuing them is a good idea, but I don't anticipate widespread adoption until they start looking cool. I'd love to have a smartwatch, but if it's going to be on my wrist where everyone can see it, then I want it to look just as good as the other watches I own.

My guess is the features of existing watches need to be perfected in smartwatches before the masses will start really being drawn in by the extra functionality. That is to say, fashionable, long battery life, simple time/date info are required, the rest is an added bonus. As it is, none of the current options have those 3 elements, in my opinion.
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Aside from them needing to look better, a big reason I will probably not buy a smartwatch is durability. If you buy an actual high quality watch, or even a low end Seikio, you will be able to pound on that thing pretty well. I don't think a Pebble or Galaxy Gear will be able to withstand the daily beating a normal watch may endure.
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I want a connected watch, very badly too. I almost jumped on the Pebble bandwagon, but decided not to pull the trigger on Kickstarter. It's just not an attractive design, nor did I expect it to be supported since it's Kickstarter.

I want an Apple/Aliph/Sony/Nike or similar branded smartwatch. Price really isn't an issue, but buying first gen does worry me. Ideally I would like to have a 2nd or 3rd gen device, but I'll probably jump on early. I say price isn't an issue because ideally I don't want to have to continue to use a separate device, like a phone. I've always worn a watch and though I don't own any $300+ watches, I'm ready to buy a quality device that's built to last.

A connected watch can eventually help us do away with the phone. If we can handle certain functions by voice, I would rather bring an iPad or my laptop with me to handle play games/surf/sync/etc.

Back to the watch itself, I've made quite a few prior posts on this website, but I'll restate for convenience.
-Bluetooth 4.0
-1 week battery
-waterproof to 100ft
-basic watch functions -timer, alarm, chronograph, extra time zone
-headphone jack
-heart rate monitor
-loaded with basic apps-weather, calendar, fitness apps, health apps
-solar charger option
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I do not wear a watch. I am interested in a smart watch but, not at the $300+ price point. At that point why am I also paying for a phone with the month bills associated with that purchase?

I don't have a list of features that I would like to see in a smart watch. I don't think there is a perfect type of smart watch. I say that because of the number and variety of regular watches there are. If there was a sweet spot for features and price then I'm sure that a watch maker would have found it by now. No, I see watches more as a fashion accessory and I did before we all carried a smart phone in our pocket but, more so now.

If you think of a smart watch as a fashion accessory than the number one thing that companies need to do to be taken seriously is to make the watch look like something you would want to wear. The three examples with this discussion all look the same, screen and wristband, all black, no stand out feature to make them look good.

My suggestion would be to get away from the square display; that just looks tacky. But, that is my opinion. There is a reason that most watches are round; they look better.
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I am definitely going to get one the moment there's one that I like.

I actually still own the LG Prada watch that was released back in 2009 (at the time, GDGT didnt agree with me to add the device to their listed gadgets.) It was only compatible with the LG Prada Phone II. That phone was terrible but being able to read my text messages off my wrist was a convenience that I can't wait to regain.
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