So far, no smart watch has captured the imagination and devotion of consumers. With so many companies dumping so much time and money into these products, it seems likely that at some point, a smart watch will strike industry gold.
It may be that the rumored products from Apple and Google could be the ones to succeed. Apple is known for its ability to combine usefulness with aesthetics, and Google's deep pockets and sprawling Android user base could help put a smart watch over the top.
Until the first home-run product arrives, it's anyone's guess as to where watches will go from here. Perhaps they'll always be considered smartphone accessories, permanently tethered to a more powerful handheld device. Or maybe an innovative user interface and better battery life will result in watches that cast off master gadgets as unnecessary, and perhaps ... unfashionable.
It might be that the limited real estate of a watch is simply too difficult of a hurdle for contemporary technologies to overcome. At the moment, each manufacturer is basically going fishing – throwing out their lines of products in the hopes that at least one of them will snag a following. So far, Pebble (perhaps the biggest underdog in the entire lineup) has done best, selling more than 250,000 units in its initial offering.
If such a small company can find a niche with its digital contraptions, you can bet that bigger corporations are working to do the same.
Author's Note: How Smart Watches Work
The world has heaping trash piles of dead-on-arrival digital gadgets. Smart watches, at this point, have a ways to go before they establish themselves as must-have digital tools. To emerge from the long, long shadows of super-smart smartphones, smart watches will need a killer usability that no other device can match. Currently, that killer app has yet to emerge. I'm betting that we'll see a product or two in the next year that will radically shift our concept of timepieces, for the better. -- NC
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More Great Links
- Techspot.com: Microsoft SPOT and Suunto n3 Smart Watch review
- Forbes.com: Microsoft offers smart watches, targets TVs - Jan. 7, 2004
- Microsoft Press Release: Microsoft and Watch-making Partners Announce First Smart Personal Objects Technology Wristwatches - Jan. 9, 2003
- Microsoft Press Release: Microsoft Launches Smart Personal Object Technology Initiative - Nov. 17, 2002
- The SMART in SPOT: The Smart Watch White Papers
- de Burton, Simon. "Nissan and TAG Heuer Release Smartwatches." Financial Times. Nov. 8, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/05fc4c10-26b4-11e3-9dc0-00144feab7de.html
- Etherington, Darrell. "Apple Patents Bluetooth LE for Intermittent Network Sharing, Perfect for Smartwatches." Techcrunch. Nov. 7, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/07/apple-iwatch-bluetooth-le-network-patent/
- Hot Smartwatch Product Page. "Hot Smartwatch." (Nov. 22, 2013) http://hotsmartwatch.com/
- Jesdanun, Anick. "Smartwatches Abound. But Who Really Wants One?" Yahoo News. Oct. 30, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://news.yahoo.com/smartwatches-abound-really-wants-one-204731384--finance.html
- Lee, Nicole. "Pebble CEO Bets Big on Developers for Smartwatch's Future." Engadget. Nov. 10, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/10/pebble-ceo-bets-big-on-developers-for-smartwatchs-future/
- Martian Product Page. "Martian Watches." (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.martianwatches.com/
- Metz, Rachel. "So Far, Smart Watches are Pretty Dumb." Technology Review. Oct. 15, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.technologyreview.com/review/520236/so-far-smart-watches-are-pretty-dumb/
- Murphy Kelly, Samantha. "Why Are Smartwatches So Ugly?" Mashable. Nov. 3, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://mashable.com/2013/11/03/why-are-smartwatches-so-ugly/
- Pavlus, John. "Smart Watches." Technology Review. Apr. 23, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/513376/smart-watches/
- Samsung Press Release. "Samsung Introduces Galaxy Gear, a Wearable Device to Enhance the Freedom of Mobile Communications." Samsung. Sep. 4, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.samsungmobilepress.com/2013/09/04/Samsung-Introduces-GALAXY-Gear,-a-Wearable-Device-to-Enhance-the-Freedom-of-Mobile-Communications-1
- Schneider, Chris. Senior Program Manager of SPOT. E-mail interview.
- Stein, Scott and Bennett, Brian. "What's Smart (and dumb) About the Latest Smartwatches." CNET. Oct. 4, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-3512_7-57578715/whats-smart-and-dumb-about-the-latest-smartwatches/
- Sony Product Page. "SmartWatch." Sony Mobile. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.sonymobile.com/us/products/accessories/smartwatch/
- Torres, Juan Carlos. "Goophone 'True' Smartwatch Shown Off in Hands-On Video." Androidcommunity. Nov. 10, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://androidcommunity.com/goophone-true-smart-watch-shown-off-in-hands-on-video-20131110/
- Wells Lynch, Tyler. "Smartwatches: Function, Fashion or Fad?" USA Today. Nov. 12, 2013. (Nov. 22, 2013) http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/11/12/reviewed-smartwatches/3497121/