Wearable technology is the next big thing in gadgetry. Go on, put your smartphones down for just a second, and check out what some of these companies are coming up with. That smartphones you’re holding in your hand is about to be obsolete.
Of course, the ability to multi-task and the idea of being completely hands free is the wave of the future.
The smartphone was revolutionary, and I’m still amazed at what my phone can do. But the days of people lined up around the block waiting for the new iPhone will soon be gone – if they aren’t already. Newer models aren’t flying off the shelves like before, and cheaper models ranging anywhere from $50 to $200 offer many of the same features that the more high end models offer for upwards of $600.
The craze has worn off. Most of us who want them have already got our hands on a smartphone, and those who don’t won’t likely want the next model either. Now everyone is asking what’s the next big thing!?
It looks like it’s going to be a smartwatch. I’m a watch guy, so I was instantly intrigued.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) just bought a small company called Passif Semiconductor. The start-up, which is about ten employees strong, designs communication chips that use very little power. This could prove useful in wearable technology, including the rumored iWatch that many believe Apple will soon roll out. The name has even been trademarked in several countries.
The technology works with the Bluetooth Smart (4.0 and Low Energy) standard. These devices, like a heart-rate monitor and other workings, can connect to your smartphone or tablet but have a battery life that can last for months or even years, according to Mashable.
There are already similar devices on the market that use Bluetooth Smart, like the FitBit Flex, a wristband for all the fitness enthusiasts out there.
And we know Apple always has a few tricks up its sleeve, so we’ll definitely be on the lookout for what it’s going to do with the iWatch and how Passif will fold into the mix.
Samsung (KSE: 005930), too, has its sights set on a timepiece – a flexible multi-function frame that was confirmed by the company on May 19.
The device is meant to bend to fit around the wrist and incorporate the functionality of the Galaxy range of Android smartphones. Its design was in the dark for a while, but it just recently came to surface in a trademark filing: the Samsung Galaxy Gear.
The name pretty much sums up what Samsung is working on – that along with keywords and phrases in the filing like “wrist watch” and “bracelet” are a good indication that the Gear will be a wristwatch.
And by incorporating “Galaxy” in its title, you can assume it will be loaded with the same features as other Galaxy devices, all of which run on Android.
As for the design, there are three different filings, each with slight modifications from the others. The version that stands out presents a bending display that can stretch out completely flat but an also be wrapped around the wrist to be worn at leisure.
The other versions present a more fixed and rigid screen area that would still fit around the wrist – but only because it was built with curvature and not because its shape can be warped.
Samsung first revealed in March that it was working on wearable technology, but the company has kept details under wraps. The little we do know is found in the trademark filings.
It will be interesting to see if the company decides to bring the smartwatch to the IFA 2013 in Berlin, the world’s leading trade show for electronics and home appliances. It certainly would make a splash.
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It looks like there is going to be a whole slew of companies with similar ideas. There are already devices like the FitBit Flex on the market.
Apple’s iWatch has the most buzz around it, but Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is supposedly working on a smartwatch of its own.
Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), just the day after Samsung made its smartwatch announcement, also hinted that it had something in the works called the TOQ. And information leaked that Best Buy stores will carry the Pebble smartwatch very soon. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) also has confirmed that it’s working on wearable technology.
The most discussed piece of wearable tech, however, may be the Google Glass. Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) device is a thin head piece that allows the user to take pictures, videos, map directions, and countless other things.
The time for wearable technology is definitely upon us. If it catches on or not, and how far companies like Samsung and Apple take it, is still up in the air.
The companies getting involved are definitely cutting edge, and they’re the ones to watch going forward.
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