A “Smartwatch” is a computerized wristwatch with functionality that is enhanced beyond timekeeping. Many smartwatches can run mobile apps, audio, video, take pictures and record video, track fitness, and make and receive phone calls with the help of a built-in operating system. Like other computers, a smartwatch may collect information from internal or external sensors. It may control, or retrieve data from, other instruments or computers.
History of Smart Watches
The idea of Smart Watch has been taken from the 1940’s comic strip – Dick Tracy, a detective. He used a two way communicating watch. The first digital watch, which debuted in 1972, was the “Pulsar” manufactured by Hamilton Watch Company. It was the first watch which had user-programmable memory. The famous Timex Datalink was introduced in 1994. It proved that data could be easily transmitted to the watch via a screen blinking light protocol.
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. At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show a large number of new smartwatches were released. Android Wear, Samsung Gear, Moto 360, LG G Watch and Apple Watch were released. The latest Smart Watches are far more advanced and complex than their predecessors.
Smart Watches can be divided into the following four categories and the technology varies in each of them, though there are similarities, too. All these also house all the required devices to run a computer like processor, memory, input and output devices.
- SPORTS: These consist of pedometers, heartbeat monitors, calorie consumption logarithm, weather forecasting mechanism, digital compasses and GPS receivers.
- HEALTH: These consist of heartbeat monitors, digital thermometers, and sleep monitors.
- SECURITY: These generally have GPS receivers, SOS emergency communication and user fall detection.
- ALERTS: These do not possess any other technological devices other than the basic ones needed to display notifications from the host.
Applications of Smart Watches
- PAYMENTS: Smart Watches like the Apple Watch contain Near Field Communication chips. These are very useful when you are in a queue for buying a cup of coffee. You can make the payment with one hand and hold the cup with the other.
- VIDEO & AUDIO CHAT: Smart Watches have an inbuilt camera. So, you can make and receive video and audio calls. This minimises the need to take out the phone and then receive the call.
- CHILD MONITORING: One of the uses of smartwatches could to help parents keep track of their kids as parents want ways to stay connected with their kids throughout the day, and they are willing to pay for new technology to do it.
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT: One of the biggest applications of Smart Watches accessing various kinds of public transportation. It can useful when you do not want to take out your smart card while travelling in Metro, Flights, Buses and Taxis in some countries.
- FITNESS TRACKING: Smart Watches are used to track body movements, calories burned, time spent in resting, number of heartbeats, and can be used to collect data about one’s fitness. This data can be used by the dietician or physician to guide people.
- PERSONAL SAFETY: Smart Watches are an useful means of calling the authorities or dear ones in case of an emergency as they have GPS.
Future of Smart Watches
Smart Watches are an extremely young product category and still need wide acceptance. Its pricing plays an important role here. The average consumer won’t spend so much money on an emerging technology. The developers need to work in this aspect. A person would not spend Rs 12,000, that is the price of a Moto 360, on an accessory that only relays the information to a smartphone and shows notifications. It is the overpricing of these gadgets which limit the wide reach of these products.
Smart Watches have started to evolve into a stage where phone calls can also be made with a simple command like “Call Dad” which is already present on some smartphones. Smart Watches can be used to control almost every electrical appliance like televisions, refrigerators, air-conditioners, ceiling fans, lights, etc. with the development of Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Home concepts.
Smart Watches of the future will be faster, last longer before needing to be charged, won’t weigh down your wrist and have an improved experience with better sensors and more connectivity. With the development of Android Wear and Watch OS, the usability of Smart Watches have soared to a whole new level. The Smart Watches can now perform the functions of smartphones and to some extent, of PCs.