THE SMART WATCH; A SMART MOVE?
It seems that 2013 will close with the arrival of the smart watch; a competition headed by electronics giant Samsung.
The world’s best-selling smartphone maker in the world, Samsung, has just released the Galaxy Gear; one of the very first smart watches ever made.
The Galaxy Gear is fitted with a speaker, microphone, 1.6in LED display, 1.9 megapixel camera and an internal storage capacity of four gigabytes.
It comes with 10 different clock options and 70 apps, and can be used for voice calls and to show alerts, among other features.
Samsung’s smart watch will cost about 300 dollars according to the company, and can be chosen from among a set of different colours.
Samsung has called its new gadget a ‘fashion icon’; thus seeking to answer both functional and more ‘aesthetic’ ends.
Whether the new gadget is fashion-conscious or not, it does present the potential of reaching out to more people than other wearable computers such as the Google Glass.
While computing glasses would essentially attract those who do not mind wearing glasses – which beats the purpose of having options not to wear glasses anymore, such as lenses – computing watches are more ‘comfortable’ and wide-reaching in that sense.
Samsung explained that its smart watch could be used to make voice calls, for example, without the need of taking out one’s phone.
The problem is, however, that the Galaxy Gear is not an autonomous device but only works in partnership with a Samsung Android smartphone or tablet.
Having a set of interdependent and expensive gadgets where one device’s functionality completely relies on another may not be the most convenient and efficient way to use smart objects.
Others in the industry are also working on the smart watch. Omate, for instance, plans to unveil its own smart watch in October; only this one will be fitted with 3G chips, making it thus an autonomous device.
Sony is also going to unveil the Smartwatch 2, which, just like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, will need to be paired up to other devices, although it will be functional as long as it is partnered with any device running Android 4.0 or higher.
The question is: how interesting will this new wearable computer be to consumers?
Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at technology research and advisory company Gartner, says: ‘once you get a curved display you’ll see more interesting designs, but for the moment you are basically just putting a glass screen on a wrist and I don’t think that will appeal to many.’
‘Samsung is also claiming a day’s battery life with fair usage. It’s like going back to a time you had to wind your watch up every night before going to bed. I don’t think consumers want to do that with a watch or a band. They want to have it on without having to worry about charging it every day.’
As with all innovations, only time will tell how well-received this new product will be, although its lack of autonomy and limited battery life may present two big obstacles to gain market acceptance.
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