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A smartwatch is a computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced beyond timekeeping. 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 smartwatches 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, and rechargeable battery. It may communicate with a wireless headset, heads-up display, insulin pump, microphone, modem, or other devices.
Some also have "sport watch" functionality with activity tracker features (also known as "fitness tracker") 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.
The famous Timex Datalink, a so-called wristwatch, product line was introduced in 1994. The early Timex Datalink Smartwatches realized a wireless data transfer mode to communicate with a PC. Appointments and contacts created with Microsoft Schedule+, the predecessor of MS Outlook, could be easily transmitted to the watch via a screen blinking light protocol.
In 1998, Steve Mann invented, designed, and built the world's first Linux wristwatch, which he presented at IEEE ISSCC2000, 2000 February 7, where he was named "the father of wearable computing".
See also Linux Journal, where Mann's Linux wristwatch appeared on the cover and was the feature article of LJ Issue 75.
In 1999, Samsung launched the world's first watch phone, the SPH-WP10. It had a protruding antenna, a monochrome LCD screen, and a 90-minutes of talk time with an integrated speaker and microphone.
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 a 320 × 240 QVGA monochrome touch sensitive 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.
In 2003 Fossil released the Wrist PDA, a watch which ran the Palm OS and contained 8 MB of RAM and 4 MB of flash memory. It contained a built in stylus to help use the tiny monochrome display, which had a resolution of 160x160 pixels. Although many reviewers declared the watch revolutionary, it was criticized for its weight (108 grams) and was ultimately discontinued in 2005.
Sony Ericsson lauches the Sony Ericsson LiveView, a wearable watch device which is basically an external bluetooth display for an Android Smartphone.
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 at the time of 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 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 fulfill 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 4 September 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, completed is crowd-funding process on Kickstarter for its HOT Watch smartwatch in September 2013. This device enables users to leave their handsets in their pockets, since it has a speaker for phone calls in both quiet and noisy environments.
In a September 2013 interview, Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky stated that his company was not interested in any acquisition offers, but revealed in a November 2013 interview that his company has sold 190,000 smartwatches, the majority of which were sold after its Kickstarter campaign closed.
Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed that his company is working on a smartwatch during a December 2013 interview. Woodside showed an awareness of the difficulties that other companies have experienced with wrist-wearable technologies and explained:
There's clearly gonna be something that changes on your wrist, how it works and what exactly it is is something our teams are working on hard. Whatever it is, it has to compete with what works now ... We can't have something fragile, we can't have something that needs to be charged everyday. You're going to have to have some functionality that's just killer otherwise why spend the money on yet another product.
At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show a large number of new smartwatches were released from various companies such as Razer Inc, Archos, and several other companies, as well as a few startups. Some have begun to call the 2014 CES a "wrist revolution" because of the amount of smartwatches release and the huge amount of publicity they began to receive at the start of 2014.
At Google I/O on 25 June 2014, the Android Wear platform was introduced and the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live were released. The Wear-based Moto 360 was announced by Motorola in 2014. At the end of July, Swatch's CEO Nick Hayek announced that they will launch a Swatch Touch with smartwatch technologies in 2015.
The launch of Samsung's Gear S smartwatch was covered by the media in late August 2014. The model features a curved Super AMOLED display and a built-in 3G modem, with technology writer Darrell Etherington stating on the TechCrunch website, "we’re finally starting to see displays that wrap around the contours of the wrist, rather than sticking out as a traditional flat surface." The corporation will commence selling the Gear S smartwatch in October 2014 alongside the Gear Circle headset accessory.
Apple’s first foray into wearable technology was met with considerable criticism during the pre-launch period, with many early technology reviews citing issues with battery life and hardware malfunctions. Once the Apple Watch was released to the general public, opinions quickly changed. Early adopters were eager to point out the satisfactory battery life in addition to a myriad of different features that performed better than expected.
Though the Apple Watch was met with near universal acclaim, many still cited its ambiguous and unclear purpose in the daily lives of the general populous. Another large complaint by consumers was the inability for the Apple Watch’s sensors to detect a user’s heart rate or skin contact if they had tattoos on their wrist. This was met with a response from Apple acknowledging the issue, and stating that it makes sense, as the unit’s sensors were unable to directly contact the skin of the wearer.  In addition, after using the device for some time, users of the stainless steel Apple Watch model noted that there was scratching on the case of the watch. While skeptics were quick to call this discovery a manufacturing default, many pointed out that all stainless steel will sustain some form scratching, and that it was easily removed with standard metal polish. Overall, users of the Apple Watch have indicated that the wearable is the most advanced in terms of usability on the market today, and that they look forward to the development of the Apple Watch environment.
On 29 October 2014, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Band, a smart fitness tracker and the company's first venture into wrist worn devices since SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) a decade earlier. The Microsoft Band was released at $199 the following day, on 30 October 2014.
Features and applications
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 exercise activities for analysis. Some smart watches can serve as full GPS navigation devices, displaying maps and current coordinates. Users can "mark" their current location and then edit the entry's name and coordinates, which enables navigation to those new coordinates.
Although most smartwatch models manufactured in the 21st century are completely functional as standalone products, many of the devices that are manufactured now are required to be paired with a mobile phone running the same operating system, this allows the watch to run not only as a watch but a remote to the phone. This allows the device to alert the user to communication data such as calls, SMS messages, emails, and calendar invites.
General features include:
Smartwatch hardware comparison
|Product||SKU||Announced||SIM card||Processor||RAM/Flash||Resolution||Display||Weight||Dimensions||Battery (mAh)||OS||BT||WLAN||Cell||GPS||NFC||Wireless Charging|
|Samsung Galaxy Gear||SM-V700||4 September 2013||no||Single-Core 800 MHz (Dual-Core 1.6GHz with unlocked Kernel/.null rom) Exynos4212||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.63 in
|1.45 × 2.23 × 0.44 in
(37 × 57 × 11 mm)
|315||Android / Tizen Update||4.0 LE|
|Samsung Gear 2||SM-R380||22 February 2014||no||Dual-Core 1 GHz Exynos3250||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.63 in
|1.45 × 2.30 × 0.39 in
(36.8 × 58.4 × 9.9 mm)
|Samsung Gear 2 Neo||SM-R381||22 February 2014||no||Dual-Core 1 GHz Exynos3250||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.63 in
|1.49 × 2.31 × 0.39 in
(37.8 × 58.7 × 9.9 mm)
|Samsung Gear Live||SM-R382||25 June 2014||no||Single-Core 1.2 GHz MSM8226||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.63 in
|1.49 × 2.57 × 0.54 in
(38 × 65 × 14 mm)
|300||Android Wear||4.0 LE|
|Samsung Gear Fit||SM-R350||11 April 2014||no||STM32F439 160 MHz||16MB||128x432||1.84 in
|0.92 × 2.26 × 0.47 in
(23 × 57 × 12 mm)
|Samsung Gear S||SM-R750||28 August 2014||nano-SIM||Dual-Core 1 GHz||512MB/4GB||360x480||2 in
|1.57 × 2.23 × 0.49 in
(40 × 57 × 12 mm)
|LG G Watch||W100||25 June 2014||no||Quad-Core 1.2 GHz MSM8226||512MB/4GB||280x280||1.65 in
|1.57 × 1.83 × 0.39 in
(39.9 × 46.5 × 9.9 mm)
|400||Android Wear||4.0 LE|
|LG G Watch R||W110||4 September 2014||no||Quad-Core 1.2 GHz MSM8226||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.3 in
|1.83 × 1.83 × 0.43 in
(46 × 46 × 11 mm)
|410||Android Wear||4.0 LE|
|LG G Watch R2||7 January 2015||WebOs||Yes|
|Asus ZenWatch||WI500Q||3 September 2014||no||Quad-Core 1.2 GHz MSM8226||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.63 in
|1.57 × 1.99 × 0.37 in
(39.9 × 50.5 × 9.4 mm)
|410||Android Wear||4.0 LE|
|Sony SmartWatch 2||SW2||25 June 2013||no||Single-Core 180 MHz CM4||220x176||1.6 in
|1.65 × 1.61 × 0.35 in
(41.9 × 40.9 × 8.9 mm)
|Sony SmartWatch 3||SWR50||3 September 2014||no||Quad-Core 1.2 GHz BCM23550||512MB/4GB||320x320||1.6 in
|1.42 × 2.0 × 0.39 in
(36.1 × 50.8 × 9.9 mm)
|420||Android Wear||4.0 LE||Yes||Yes|
|Motorola Moto 360||Moto 360||18 March 2014||no||Single-Core 1 GHz TI OMAP 3||512MB/4GB||320x290||1.56 in
|1.81 × 1.81 × 0.45 in
(46 × 46 × 11 mm)
|320||Android Wear||4.0 LE||Qi|
|Apple Watch||38mm: Watch1,1
|9 September 2014||no||Apple S1||512MB/8GB||38mm:
1.32 in (34 mm)
1.5 in (38 mm)
1.52 × 1.31 × 0.41 in
(39 × 33 × 10 mm)
1.65 × 1.41 × 0.41 in
(42 × 36 × 10 mm)
|38mm: 205||Watch OS||4.0 LE||bgn||Yes||Inductive|
|Pebble Watch||11 April 2012||no||Single-Core STM32F205RE 120 MHz CM3||128KB/4MB||144x168||1.5 in
|2.45 × 1.42 × 0.45 in
(62 × 36 × 11 mm)
|140||Pebble OS||4.0 LE|
|Qualcomm Toq||4 September 2013||no||200 MHz CM3||288x192||1.55 in
|1.7 × 1.87 × 0.39 in
(43.2 × 47.5 × 9.9 mm)
|Exetech XS3||XS3||1 November 2013||Yes||MTK 6577||512MB/32GB||240x240||1.54 in
|1.45 × 2.30 × 0.39 in
(36.8 × 58.4 × 9.9 mm)
List of smart watches in production
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Smartwatches.|
|Sony SmartWatch ||Sony|
|Pebble Watch, Steel and Time||Pebble|
|Wearing Digital Weda (Slap Band)||Wearing Digital|
|Timex Ironman ONE GPS+||Timex Group USA|
|WIMM One||Wimm Labs|
|Motorola Moto 360|
|MetaWatch Strata||Meta Watch, Ltd|
|Samsung Galaxy Gear||Samsung|
|Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit|
|Z1 Android Watch-Phone||Unknown|
|LG GD910 (limited edition)||LG|
|Hyundai MB 910||Hyundai|
|LG G Watch||LG|
|Samsung Gear Live||Samsung|
|Samsung Gear S|
|Neptune Pine||Neptune Computer Inc.|
- While more are in production with current development, some companies are using popular outlets such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo to fund their projects.
Smart watch comparison
|Smart watch||Company||OS||Android version||iOS version||CPU Type||Bluetooth||NFC||Developer Options||GPS||Notify Link Loss Alert||Notify Missed Call||Notify Timer||Notify View Content||Call Conversation||Find My Phone||Voice Control||Respond to Notifications||Notify Sound||Notify Backlit Screen||Notify Vibration||Ambient Light Sensor||Gyroscope||Magnetometer||Multi-touch||Accelerometer||Water Resistance||Clock Display Type||Screen Size, Inches||Screen Resolution, pixels||Display Technology||Average Battery Life, days||Battery Capacity, mAh||Battery Technology||Case Diameter, mm||Case Thickness, mm||Wrist Band Width, mm||Weight (main unit+watchband), g||Wristband Options||Replaceable Wristbands||LED Flashlight|
|HOT Smart Watch||PHTL||Proprietary||2.3-4.2||5-7||Cortex M3 Processor||4.0||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Splash Proof||Digital||1.26||Unknown||Black and White ePaper||3||Unknown||Unknown||54||8||24.4||Unknown||Unknown||No||Yes|
|Pebble||Pebble||Pebble OS||2.3-5.0||5-7||ARM Cortex-M3||4.0||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||50m (5 atm)||Digital||1.26||144x168||Black and White ePaper||7||140||Lithium-ion||58.4||11||22||121||White, Black||Yes||No|
|Pebble Steel||Pebble||Pebble OS||2.3-5.0||5-7||ARM Cortex-M3||4.0||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||50m (5 atm)||Digital||1.26||Unknown||Black and White ePaper||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Yes||No|
|SmartWatch 2||Sony||Micrium uC/OS-II||4.0+||No||Unknown||3.0||Yes||Yes||Yes||Unknown||Unknown||No||Yes||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Yes||Yes||No||Unknown||No||Yes||Yes||Splash Proof||Digital||1.6||220x176||LCD||4||Unknown||Unknown||58.6||9||24||123||Unknown||Yes||Unknown|
|XS-3||Exetech||Android||4.0+||No||MTK 6577||4.0||No||No||Yes||Unknown||Yes||Yes||Yes||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||No||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Splash Proof||Digital||1.54||220x220||LCD||4||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
- Apple Watch
- Automatic parking
- Android smartwatch
- GPS watch
- Open-source computing hardware
- Rollable display
- Smart band
- Smart keychain (NFC keychain)
- Wearable computer
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