Picture these. You are on one of your adventure trips and desperately need to quench your thirst. Instead of breaking a sweat and asking around for a nice restaurant you simply speak to your watch “Find a restaurant nearby”; and your watch presents you with feasible options and a map with directions to get to them. You are working out in a gym and after the session your watch gives you an overview of the calories you have burnt. You have the license to feel smug at having lost all those calories. You are driving and urgently need to text your colleague. Don’t bother picking up your phone. Just speak to your watch and it will send the message for you. (We discussed this in a March 2013 blog)
Imagine a scenario where you feel overwhelmed by the beauty of a scene and just use your watch to capture it. How cool is that! Gone are the days when you looked at your wrist to simply take note of the time. Now your watch will assist you in a way that once caught your imagination as part of fancy Hollywood sci-fi flicks.
Behold the modern day smart watch – a wearable device all set to keep you updated on the move. Coupled with a smart phone or not, a smart watch may incorporate a whole spectrum of functionalities such as GPS navigation, heart-rate monitoring, media player, texting, calling or even clicking pictures. In short, it lets you do almost everything that a smart phone does without you having a need to fish into your pocket. According to Google on an average a smart phone user checks his or her phone 125 times a day. This number is surely going to come down as users start getting updates on a device they can wear on their wrists.
Smart watch suddenly appears to be a pool of wealth in which every company wants to swim. Be it Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, LG, Motorola or Asus, more and more companies have either announced or started rolling out smart watches in a bid to get a stronghold on this (potentially) billion dollar market. Samsung Gear, Moto 360, Sony SmartWatch, LG G watch, the recently unveiled Apple iWatch, Pebble Smart Watch series and Google Android Wear, all indicate a paradigm shift on how an individual will use mobile devices to ease his life.
However, novel though they may seem, Smart Watches aren’t something invented over the past decade. They did exist in much less sophisticated form, offering calculation and paging functionalities. Seiko offered a watch that could store digits and compute data. Casio offered a series of “game watches”. IBM came up with a smart watch operating on Linux and even owns a patent related to smart watch (US 6477117). However, imbibing more features in these watches meant a larger size which was why they weren’t fancied by the public. Only recently, with the advent of technology that can make miniature devices possible, the development of smart watches has gained momentum. Apple and Samsung, two companies involved in probably the most high profile global tussle related to patents, have already started fortifying their portfolio of patents related to smart watches. Apple filed for US patent 8787006 in 2011, which discloses a wrist-worn electronic device with all its unique functions. Samsung also obtained a design patent US D709873 S1 which discloses a circular smart watch, unlike its Gear devices which are all rectangular in shape. Dominating a market needs innovation which is why it is highly likely that the patent count related to smart watches will increase in future.
Development of smart wearable devices is still at a nascent stage. There are various doubts as to the commercial success of smart watches due to factors such as limited battery life. However, as was seen in the case of tabs, it doesn’t take time for the market to explode once the device and its usage becomes apparent to users. Smart watch is an emerging domain of portable devices and may go on to claim a huge pie of the revenue in the mobile devices market. What remains to be seen is who emerges as the leading market player and what sorts of innovations can companies bring to alleviate the present concerns related to smart watches.
(Featured image source: https://pixabay.com/en/apple-iphone-iwatch-apps-mobile-1039117/)