Samsung Galaxy Gear
Sony and Nissan have just launched watches and Apple, although expected by some to launch a smartwatch earlier this week, is still rumoured to have one in the offing.
What ties the watches together is their possession of many of the same functions as a smartphone and the way they are designed to work in tandem with one.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear watch for example, can make voice activated calls and receive calls when users lift the watch to their ear.
Although there is a small touch-screen on the device it can also respond to the user’s voice.
You can access emails and texts, listen to music and take pictures; a camera is contained in a flap.
The benefits are that smartwatches bring a seamlessness and unobtrusiveness to accessing the features of a smartphone, and you can imagine that with your hands free you have greater dexterity.
Indeed, the argument for breaking down physical barriers that get in the way of communication is put forward by designers and fans of wearable technology as its greatest exploit.
Desirability from an aesthetic point of view is a bit of a question mark though. To put it kindly Google Glass and Galaxy Gear were probably not designed with form over function front of mind.
Google Glass of course emerged earlier this year possessing impressive capabilities including mapping, messaging, picture and video before your eyes, within a device which although light and minimal is perhaps a bit of an eyesore.
Nissan’s Nismo smartwatch, which emerged only this week, is designed to be worn when driving and feeds the user car performance data such as average speed and fuel consumption, as well as biometrics including the driver’s heart rate and body temperature.
We know that ‘internet of things’ has been bandied around for some time now, a term which essentially means objects being given increased functionality through connectivity.
There is now an automotive design race to make the best of in car connectivity and the Nismo has been borne out of this.
Sony’s SmartWatch beat its competitors to launch, and the name, but doesn’t have calling functionality, instead marketing itself on discretional qualities, such as showing when you have a call coming in if your phone is in your bag or pocket.
Principally it receives notifications and allows you to download apps and listen to music.
We can see the potential for wearable technology is great, although for now it is at the beginning of a design curve and may take a few product generations to get there.
But can wearable technology, and in particular smartwatches be a viable alternative to the familiar mobile phone format?
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Samsung Galaxy Gear