The Smartwatch Revolution
The continuing roll out of next generation smartwatches only prove that we are not yet giving up on this new wearable technology despite its lacklustre market in 2013.
In fact, a revolution is almost certain to happen this year as various new players like Epson, Polar and Garmin announced their interest to join the smartwatch wagon, previously dominated by tech innovators like Samsung, Google, LG, Qualcomm, Sony, ZTE and others.
This revolution is ultimately great news for the consumers. More vendors mean more improved and hopefully, less expensive smartwatches.
Here are some of the wearable tech slated for release later this year as announced in 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas last Jan 7-10:
1. LifeTrack Zone R415 has a dynamic sleep tracker and capable of waking you up at the optimal part of your sleep cycle. It also has a heart rate monitor, pedometer, calorie counter and activity tracker. What’s great about this is that it’s powered by a watch cell battery which can last for 9 months.
2. LG Lifeband Touch wristband is capable of tracking your steps, distance, calories, and heart rate. It’s designed to slip on like a bangle. It supports gesture-controls for better workouts and can run for 5 days straight.
3. Polar V800 wristband does round-the-clock activity tracking, including GPS and (optionally) heart rate monitoring, which it tracks even while its user is swimming. It’s got a large Gorilla Glass display that can show up to four weeks of training data, and syncs via a Bluetooth Smart device to the Polar Flow app and online service.
4. Garmin Vivofit wristband will learn your activity patterns and set new goals for you that increase as you progress. There are two models: one with a heart monitor and one without. Both will sync with Garmin’s online fitness community, Garmin Connect.
Rumours also circulate that Microsoft, Google, and Apple are set to heat up the competition this year with feature-packed devices of their own. But at this point, nothing is certain on when these devices will be announced or if they will ever see the light of day.
However, for people who can’t wait and are planning to purchase their smartwatches today, here are the 3 best-known smartwatches we think may interest you:
1. Pebble Steel – Compatible with iOS and Android. (Price: AUD$324)
- Crafted with stainless steel and tough Corning Gorilla Glass
- Uses power-saving e-paper rather than a conventional LCD display. This means it’s still useful even in direct sunlight.
- Battery life lasts for 5-7 days.
- 128KB in memory
- Connects via Bluetooth, which usually use up an extra 5%-10% of your battery life, per day.
- Lights up in the dark with a quick flick of the wrist.
- Can be worn underwater (fresh and saltwater) up to 5ATM
- Can wake you up or give you a subtle notification that only you’ll notice.
- Charges using your computer or any USB wall charger.
- Designed to fit most 22mm watch bands.
2. Samsung Galaxy Gear – Compatible with Galaxy Note 2/3, Galaxy S3/S4, Galaxy tablets via NFC and Bluetooth. (Price: AUS$324)
- 1.9 Megapixel, auto focus camera found in wrist strap
- Video, HD (720p) playback & recording
- 1.63-inch Super AMOLED, 320 X 320 touchscreen
- 4GB Internal memory + 512 MB (RAM)
- Two movement sensors to count steps and turn on with a shake
- 2 Microphones (Noise Cancellation), 1 Speaker
- Can send email notifications, Facebook and Twitter updates (for reading), Google Hangout messages and Messenger pings
- Comes with useful apps like eBay app, MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and more.
- Additional features: Auto Lock, Find My Device, Media Controller, Pedometer, Stopwatch, Timer
- Safety assistance: In case of emergency, press a power button 3 times continuously, and then user’s location information is transferred to the saved contacts with message
- Requires a clam shell cradle to charge the battery, which most consumers find cumbersome.
- No built in GPS or Wi-Fi
3. Sony SmartWatch 2 – Compatible with Android 4.0 and above (Price: AUS$210)
- Dust-proof and will last up to 30 minutes in fresh water at 1m depth
- 1.6-inch transflective LCD display, with 3 touch-sensitive keys for back, home, & menu
- Battery life stretches to 4 days, depending on use.
- Can use a variety of different straps sold by Sony, including other watch strap that’s 24mm wide.
- Has a standard microUSB port for charging.
- Sony’s Smart Connect app manages the connection between the SmartWatch 2 and the user’s smartphone and also, serves as a portal for free and paid apps.
- Displays a notification if text messages arrive. However, replying to these messages is limited to standard/canned reply texts which you pre-program in your smartphone.
- No camera, no voice controls.
As early as now, industry insiders are predicting a bright and exciting future for smartwatches and for wearable devices in general, with a staggering 485 million devices by 2018. We couldn’t agree more. If every major consumer electronics company continues developing the most attractive smartwatches using innovative technology, at the lowest prices, more people will be thrilled to wear them on their wrists.