After the smart phones and tablets it is the wearable gadgets like smart watches that are creating waves in the technology world. Though still very nascent, the market for smart watches is growing steadily with many new releases and may see exponential growth rates once big technology companies like Apple or Google enter the scene. So, what is a smart watch and what can they do? In this post I try to answer most of the common questions you may get related to smart watches.
What is a Smart Watch?
A smart watch is a small electronic gadget which sits on your wrist and can perform many of the tasks which are now till now performed by other portable gadgets like smart phones, tablets, and laptops.
What can they do?
Smart watches can alert you when you receive a new call or message on your phone, notify you on the updates on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, perform independent tasks like playing music, giving weather updates, and monitoring your heart beat rate.
How do they work?
Smart watches have their own tiny processors, RAM, and LED touch screen displays just like smart phones and tablets. They have their own Operating Systems and Apps too. Sony’s ‘SmartWatch’ runs on the Android OS. Smart watches have custom developed apps which improve their utility just like in the case of smart phones. Smart watch manufacturers like Pebble are also setting up their own app stores to make more number of apps available to their customers. Smart watches connect with other devices using technologies like Bluetooth. Some smart watches have GPS connectivity too.
Do they look totally different from conventional watches?
Yes, they do look totally different from conventional watches with bigger LED displays and bulky dials. But, some smart watches like the Maritan G2G (see image below) look like conventional watches and have a small LED display for displaying notifications.
Where do they get their power from?
Smart Watches are powered by tiny batteries fitted inside them just like any other conventional watch. By they need to be regularly recharged just like you do with the batteries in smart phones. Smart watches like the Pebble E-Paper Watch have a recharge cycle of one week.
Is recharging the batteries in smart watches a hassle?
No, Batteries in smart watches recharge in just 1-2 hours . But recharging the battery in your watch just like you do with your smart phones and tablets is something you need to get used to. This can be a bit annoying for people who use automatic watches or watches which can generate power on their own (Citizen’s Eco-Drive).
How much do they cost?
Most of the smart watches are priced in the US$ 100-300 range. They don’t cost any more than the normal conventional watches.
What is holding their spread?
Smart watches are still niche products and more people may start using them once their utility is proven. Another problem is that, many company’s like Pebble which are manufacturing smart watches are crowd funded and hence have limited financial resources and marketing prowess. These issues can limit their spread for some time to come.
Is this the first time smart watches are available in the market?
No, Microsoft released its smart watches called ‘SPOT’ and ‘Suunto n3’ in 2004 and RIM (now BlackBerry) released a smart watch called ‘inPulse’ for the users of its BlackBerry devices in 2008. Both of them failed in the market due to poor response from customers.
Is there anything better coming in Future?
Trying to get a new blockbuster product to the market soon, Apple is rumored to be working on developing a new smart watch which works on iOS. Not to be left behind in the race, Samsung and LG too are rumored to be working on smart watches which run on the Android OS. Microsoft may also reenter the market with a new smart watch powered by its Windows 8 OS. Entry of such technology bigwigs might bring better smart watches with improved features to the market.
Should I buy one?
You can buy one if you are an early adopter of new technologies. Otherwise, wait for some more time and see how the market for smart watches evolves.