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A smartwatch or smart watch, is a computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced beyond timekeeping, and is often comparable to a personal digital assistant (PDA) device. While early models can perform basic tasks, such as calculations, translations, and game-playing, modern smartwatches are effectively wearable computers. Many smartwatches run mobile apps, while a smaller number of models run a mobile operating system and function as portable media players, offering playback of FM radio, audio, and video files to the user via a Bluetooth headset. Some smartphone models, (also called watch phones) feature full mobile phone capability, and can make or answer phone calls.
Such devices may include features such as a camera, accelerometer, thermometer, altimeter, barometer, compass, chronograph, calculator, cell phone, touch screen, GPS navigation, Map display, graphical display, speaker, scheduler, watch, SDcards that are recognized as a mass storage device by a computer, etc. and Rechargeable battery. It may communicate with a wireless headset, heads-up display, insulin pump, microphone, modem, or other devices.
Some have "sport watch" functionality as seen in GPS watches made for Training, Diving, and Outdoor sports. Functions may include training programs (such as intervals), Lap times, speed display, GPS tracking unit, Route tracking, dive computer, Heart rate monitor compatibility, Cadence sensor compatibility, and compatibility with sport transitions (as in triathlons).
Like other computers, a smartwatch may collect information from internal or external sensors. It may control, or retrieve data from, other instruments or computers. It may support wireless technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS. However, it is possible a "wristwatch computer" may just serve as a front end for a remote system, as in the case of watches utilizing cellular technology or Wi-Fi.
The first digital watch, which debuted in 1972, was the Pulsar manufactured by Hamilton Watch Company. "Pulsar" became a brand name which would later be acquired by Seiko in 1978. In 1982, a Pulsar watch (NL C01) was released which could store 24 digits, making it most likely the first watch with user-programmable memory, or "memorybank" watch. With the introduction of personal computers in the 1980s, Seiko began to develop watches with computing ability. The Data 2000 watch (1983) came with an external keyboard for data-entry. Data was synced from the keyboard to the watch via electro-magnetic coupling (wireless docking). The name stems from its ability to store 2000 characters. The D409 was the first Seiko model with on-board data entry (via a miniature keyboard) and featured a dot matrix display. Its memory was tiny, at only 112 digits. It was released in 1984 in gold, silver and black. These models were followed by many others by Seiko during the 1980s, most notably the "RC Series":
During the 1980s, Casio began to market a successful line of "computer watches", in addition to its calculator watches. Most notable was the Casio data bank series. Novelty "game watches", such as the Nelsonic game watches, were also produced by Casio and other companies.
Seiko RC series
The RC-1000 Wrist Terminal was the first Seiko model to interface with a computer, and was released in 1984. It was compatible with most of the popular PCs of that time, including Apple II,II+ and IIe, the Commodore 64, IBM PC, NEC 8201, Tandy Color Computer, Model 1000, 1200, 2000 and TRS-80 Model I, III, 4 and 4p.
The RC-20 Wrist Computer was released in 1985 under the joint brand name "Seiko Epson". It had a SMC84C00 8-bit Z-80 microprocessor; 8 KB of ROM and 2 KB of RAM. It had applications for scheduling, memos, and world time and a four-function calculator app. The dot-matrix LCD displayed 42×32 pixels, and more importantly, was touch-sensitive. Like the RC-1000, it could be connected to a personal computer, in this case through a proprietary cable. It was also notable in that it could be programmed, although its small display and limited storage severely limited application development.
The RC-4000 PC Data graph also released in 1985, was dubbed the "world's smallest computer terminal". It had 2 KB of storage. The RC-4500 (1985), also known as the Wrist Mac, had the same features as the RC-4000, but came in a variety of bright, flashy colors.
In June 2000, IBM displayed a prototype for a wristwatch that ran Linux. The original version had only 6 hours of battery life, which was later extended to 12. It featured 8MB of memory and ran Linux 2.2. The device was later upgraded with an accelerometer, vibrating mechanism, and fingerprint sensor. IBM began to collaborate with Citizen Watch Co. to create the "WatchPad". The WatchPad 1.5 features 320 × 240 QVGA display and runs Linux 2.4. It also features calendar software, Bluetooth, 8 MB of RAM and 16 MB of flash memory. Citizen was hoping to market the watch to students and businessmen, with a retail price of around $399. However, the project was discontinued sometime around 2001–2002.
Consumer device analyst Avi Greengart, from research firm Current Analysis, suggested that 2013 may be the "year of the smartwatch", as "the components have gotten small enough and cheap enough" and many consumers own smartphones that are compatible with a wearable device. Wearable technology, such as Google Glass, may evolve into a business worth US$6 billion annually and a July 2013 media report revealed that the majority of major consumer electronics manufacturers were undertaking work on a smartwatch device as of the time of the report's publication. The retail price of a smartwatch could be over US$300, plus data charges, while the minimum cost of smartphone-linked devices may be US$100.
As of July 5, 2013, the list of companies that were engaged in smartwatch development activities consists of Acer, Apple, BlackBerry, Foxconn/Hon Hai, Google, LG, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba. Some notable omissions from this list include HP, HTC, Lenovo, and Nokia. Science and technology journalist Christopher Mims identified the following points in relation to the future of smartwatches:
- The physical size of smartwatches is likely to be large.
- Insufficient battery life is an ongoing problem for smartwatch developers, as the battery life of devices at the time of publication was three to four days and this is likely to be reduced if further functions are added.
- New display technologies will be invented as a result of smartwatch research.
- The success level of smartwatches is unpredictable, as they may follow a similar trajectory to netbooks, or they may fulfil aims akin to those of Google Glass, another wearable electronic product.
Acer's S.T. Liew stated in an interview with British gadget website Pocket-Lint, "... I think every consumer company should be looking at wearable. Wearable isn’t new … it just hasn’t exploded in the way that it should. But the opportunity’s for billions of dollars’ worth of industry."
As of September 4, 2013, three new smartwatches have been launched: the Samsung Galaxy Gear, Sony SmartWatch 2, and the Qualcomm Toq. PHTL, a company based in Dallas, Texas, US, completed is crowd-funding process on the Kickstarter website for its HOT Watch smartwatch in early September 2013. PHTL explained that the purpose of its device is to enable users to leave their handsets in their pockets or bags, as the HOT Watch consists of a directional speaker for phone calls in both quiet and noisy environments.
Features and applications
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As with other sport watches, the GPS tracking unit can be used to record historical data. For example, after the completion of a workout, data can be uploaded onto a computer or online to create a log of previous exercise activities for analysis.
Additionally, some smart watches can serve as full GPS navigation devices, with a screen that can display maps and current coordinates in real-time using the "hh.mm.mmmm" (hours, minutes, and minute decimals) GPS coordinate format. Users can "mark" their current location and then edit the entry's name and coordinates, which enables navigation to those new coordinates.
Interfacing with smartphones
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Although most of the smartwatch models manufactured in the 21st century are completely functional as standalone products, many manufacturers recommend that consumers purchase mobile phone handsets that run the same operating system so that the two devices can be synchronized for additional and enhanced functionality. The watch can work as an extension or remote control of the phone and alert the user to communication data such as calls, SMS messages, emails, and calendar invites.
In popular culture
In the 1982 TV series Knight Rider, the lead character, Michael Knight, wore a 2-way communication wrist watch.
The 1979 Usborne book Future Cities. Home & Living into the 21st Century by Kenneth Gatland and David Jefferis foresees the invention of "wrist-phones" or "ristos". As well as telling the time, these predicted devices are described as having functions a reader in the 21st century will associate with cellphones and GPS equipment. "City dwellers of tomorrow could have a small gadget of enormous benefit - a wristwatch radio-telephone. With a wristwatch radio, you could talk to anyone, wherever you happened to be ... If you were late for an appointment, it would be easy to let the other people know ... It ought to be impossible to get lost in tomorrow's world, in a city or out of it ... [the wrist-phone can provide] guidance back to the nearest town."
In the 1983 cartoon series Inspector Gadget, the protagonist's niece, Penny, wears a device on her wrist known as a "utility watch" that was capable of wireless videoconferencing and she frequently used the device to communicate with her pet dog who was named "Brain".
List of smartwatches in development
- Toshiba: A prototype with a brushed-aluminum case and leather wristband was unveiled in January 2013, but a launch date is unknown.
- iWatch: As of July 2013, Apple's team of 100 designers and engineers works on the iWatch, and the corporation has filed 79 patents related to smartwatch technology. According to the Financial Times publication, the company is hiring "aggressively" and completed numerous "acqui-hires," the latter referring to the process of buying businesses for the expertise of the employees, rather than its products.
List of smart watches in production
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- Sony SmartWatch & SmartWatch 2
- Qualcomm Toq
- Pebble Watch
- Wearing Digital WEDA (Slap Band)
- Fossil Wrist PDA
- Ruputer by Seiko
- Timex Datalink
- Garmin Forerunner
- Sonostar Smartwatch
- Martian G2G Watch
- WIMM One
- Motorola Motoactv
- MetaWatch Strata
- Agent Smartwatch
- Samsung Galaxy Gear
- GEAK Watch
- i'm Watch
- HOT Watch
- Omate TrueSmart
- Z1 Android Watch-Phone
- Fashion S9110
- LG GD910 (limited edition)
- Hyundai MB 910
- ANDROID SmartWatch™ (To be released in December 2013)
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