The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Future watches are set to do more than just tell time
By JOE SCHENCK, Features Writer
Published: May 23, 2012
The age of the smartwatch is upon us. Fancy timepieces that play nice with smartphones represent the latest trend in technology with products from Sony and inPulse that would make Dick Tracy jealous.
Smartwatches typically connect to smartphones via Bluetooth and share an Internet connection with the phone to keep information synced between devices.
Sony’s SmartWatch ($149) is touted on its website as “An elegant Android watch that’ll keep you discreetly updated and your hands free.” The watch was released earlier this year and is compatible exclusively with Android devices.
It features a 1.3-inch color organic light emitting diode screen and allows the wearer to check incoming text messages, as well as accept or decline phone calls and monitor Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The next big player in the smartwatch industry is from underdog inPulse whose Pebble smartwatch already garnered a record-breaking $10 million in funding on Kickstarter, selling out of pre-orders for 85,000 watches.
The Pebble (starting at $115) features similar functions to the Sony SmartWatch and Sharp’s 1.26-inch Memory LCD with a backlit black-and-white display that’s comparable to (but more advanced than) the e-ink screen on the Amazon Kindle.
Its website describes it as “the first watch built for the 21st century.” The Pebble is water- and shatter-proof, and its battery lasts up to seven days.
Applications for the Pebble can control your phone’s music, serve as a cycling and running computer and even operate as a rangefinder for golfers (all the while relying on a smartphone, of course).
Where Pebble really has the upper hand, however, is its ability to connect with iPhones in addition to Android phones, thus catering to an astronomically larger crowd.
Italian-based Blue Sky is currently developing I’m Watch: a timepiece built on Android, which operates like a smartphone, with a speakerphone and 4 GB of built-in storage.
Its compatibility spans Apple’s iOS (iPhone), Blackberry, Windows Phone, Samsung’s Bada OS, Nokia’s Symbian OS and Android.
I’m Watch boasts an admirable collection of features, though it seems as though Blue Sky wants to replace your smartphone rather than supplement it.
Its $350 price tag will be a deterrent for some, especially in light of Pebble’s more humble cost. Preorders are being accepted now.
While the Pebble and I’m Watch are viable options for iPhone users, neither offers a pure Apple-based experience.
In 2010, Apple introduced their sixth-generation iPod Nano, making a departure from the traditional iPod look in lieu of a 1-inch square-shaped touch-screen. It can be worn as a watch, but has no wireless capability.
By the standards of today’s smartwatches, the iPod Nano may seem lackluster, but it served its purpose in entering Apple into the smartwatch market.
Its next iteration could take cues from competitors to integrate seamlessly with the iOS experience.
As the trend begins to take full force later this year, it will be interesting to see how Samsung (now the world’s biggest smartphone maker) and other industry-leaders react.
Only time will tell if these time-telling devices will catch on.