Wearable devices might be the next arena for hardware
disruption, and a huge player is staking its claim.
) already has the exclusive face-mounted computer market
cornered, and it seems to be going for a more consumer-friendly
wearable approach with wrist-mounted devices.
Today, Artem Russakovskii, founder of
posted a rumor on his
account that said Google will announce a smartwatch code-named Gem
on Halloween this year, when it releases the newest Android
Russakovskii is "relatively confident" that his sources are
correct. The date isn't a stretch to believe. The end of October
last year was when Google unveiled the Nexus 4, its flagship
smartphone. It's an open secret that the next Nexus phone will also
debut at the next Google keynote.
Another reason to put some stock into this rumor is the fact that
a wearable tech startup called WIMM Labs on the DL a year ago. WIMM
created an Android-based developer platform for wearable displays
and produced its own prototype smartwatch in 2011. In the summer of
2012, WIMM entered into a "exclusive, confidential relationship"
with an unnamed company, and many speculated that it might be
). It was revealed in August that it was actually Google that
bought up WIMM. Google had a year of talent -- and technology -- to
work it out, plus a ready-made Android platform.
Whether the rumor is true or not, Google will be entering a crowded
field when it comes to wearable tech.
(OTCMKTS:SSNLF) already has one out, but it only works in tandem
with a few Samsung phones, has awful battery life, and costs at
least $300. Reviews were almost all negative, as the interface
seemed so slapdash and laggy.
) made a
with another Android-based watch as well. The fabled iWatch still
) Toq already seems dead on arrival.
Such a device, like the Samsung competitor, will probably work in
tandem with the smartphone, taking away the need for an extra
Opinion on smartwatches varies. Do you really need yet another
device to charge every day? Between your laptop, tablet and
smartphone, do you really need another gadget to tell you when you
get an email?
But a wrist-mounted computer is definitely more palatable to
consumers outside of the futurist extremist set that currently has
access to Glass (or its forthcoming rivals). Watches are
essentially jewelry at this point. If you have a phone, you don't
need one per se, especially if it only tells time.
But some folks would like to see their notifications and such
without having to reach into their pockets (or dig around in a
handbag), pull out a phone, unlock it, and pull down notifications,
only to learn that there's a sale on at Banana Republic. It's just
much more suave to peek at your wrist. Google co-founder even calls
phone chimping '
,' -- because Google Glass is just so much more macho.
Wearable computers are already out there in the form of "quantified
self" applications such as
) FuelBand. The future where an electronic device opens your doors,
starts your car, directs you around town, and controls your home
thermostat --- the Dick Tracey-like image of wrist-computing --
promises to be more convenient than whipping out the phone for all
of those things.
The real question is whether Google, or someone else, can get the
price down and the battery life up to make a smartwatch actually
useful for the normals.