Posts Tagged ‘SmartWatch’
Technology has become high fashion, or at least is trying desperately to do so. The gee-whiz factor of gadgets has worn off, and more and more we’re now just trying to integrate them into our regular lives, and make them not only more powerful, but more attractive. Whether it’s the Jawbone Up or Google Glass, companies are trying to find ways to make gadgets as stylish as they are powerful.
But “stylish” may be harder for Jawbone and HP to achieve than we thought. That’s why I was curious to check out Citizen’s $ 495 Eco-Boost Proximity watch; Citizen has a long history of making beautiful, stylish watches, and now the company’s trying to inject some 21st-century computing into the equation. Unlike the Pebble, which is essentially the…
Meet Agent, A Smartwatch With A Second Processor For Minimizing Power Consumption And Wireless Charging
Smartwatches are all the rage, and judging by the turnout and level of enthusiasm at the recent year one meetup for Pebble Kickstarter backers in San Francisco, there’s at least a passionate niche audience for the things. So it isn’t surprising to see them continue to pop up on Kickstarter. A new one called Agent has a few unique tricks, however, which its creators believe set it above the competition.
What the Agent has that others don’t is a combination of power management features and wireless charging. It has not one but two processors, for instance, one with higher performance capabilities and one extremely low-power variant to handle simple background tasks. There’s a new Sharp Memory Display that combines the advantages of both a traditional LCD and e-ink black and white, which is very power conscious, as well as wireless Qi induction charging with an included pad. Since it’s based on the widely-accepted Qi standard, however, it should work with charging pads from a variety of manufacturers.
The Agent is a refreshing change from other Kickstarter smartwatches in that it actually offers something new in terms of technical aspirations. The watch should get up to 7 days of battery life with its smart functions activated, or up to 30 days of standby in ‘watchface-only” mode. Even if that misses the mark by a bit, it should still beat the stated and actual battery life of existing devices like the Pebble. The gadget also features a 120HMz ARM Cortex-M4 processor, a 1.28-inch display, Bluetooth 4.0 (aka “Low Energy”), onboard motion and light sensors and an OS that allows developers to write apps for it using C# and Microsoft Visual Studio. It uses a Microsoft .NET runtime environment that Agent’s creators say will maximize memory and power efficiency, unlike with other smartwatches. The team says you’ll be able to start writing and emulating apps on the desktop as soon as the funding campaign is complete, which would be faster than the staged rollout of the Pebble SDK.
The creators of the Agent are Secret Labs, a team of engineers that has been building open-source products under the brand name Netduino since 2010, as well as smart home technologies, and House of Horology, a custom timepiece manufacturer that brings some real watch cred to the game. Early bird pledges get a pre-order for $ 129, where the final price is expected to come in at around $ 249 when the product ships late this year.
It's funny, but it works. Sort of.
How will we type on smartwatches? One answer: we won't! But another answer, according to Chris Harrison of Carnegie Mellon, is this:
The prototype is called ZoomBoard, and users were able to type about 10 words per minute with it:
Most smartwatch concepts don't require much, or any, text entry — they're built with the assumption that a user will also have a smartphone. But still! Pretty smart:
It’s almost like Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft have actually launched smartwatches. Except of course they haven’t. But who cares! Analyst house ABI Research has been stroking its collective beard and come up with a forecast for the size of the nascent smartwatch market. And — drum roll please! — it reckons you can bank on more than 1.2 million of the wrist-strapped gizmos shipping this year.
Put another way, that’s about as many Raspberry Pi microcomputers shipped in its first year on sale. Or just over a third as many netbooks are predicted to ship this year (3.97 million units globally, according to IHS iSuppli). Which means smartwatches could be about as popular as a niche gadget for learning about computing/making a DIY robot, but less popular than the PC that’s cannonballing towards extinction the quickest.
Which sounds about as plausible as any guesstimate produced prior to any mainstream tech companies actually launching product. If you’re in the business of reading tea leaves it helps if you wait for someone to make a brew before doing divinations.
ABI says its “market intelligence” of the “strong potential emergence of smart watches” — note the careful hedge, and don’t bet the farm on this one just yet — is based on the emergence over the past nine months of “a number of new smart watches”, which is likely referring to Kickstarter-funded Pebble and its myriad of wrist-coveting, crowdfunded competitors.
The analyst also says its forecast is based on ”contributing factors” that it reckons are encouraging the smartwatch market to (maybe) emerge from its Kickstarter-powered chrysalis and (possibly) blossom into a standalone butterfly — namely:
…the high penetration of smartphones in many world markets, the wide availability and low cost of MEMS sensors, energy efficient connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0, and a flourishing app ecosystem.
Even though the smartwatch market remains a partially formed, largely limp-wristed creature, listlessly stuck within its chrysalis of potential, ABI has already spotted four categories hoping to fly in the months and years ahead — aka: notification types (such as MetaWatch and Cookoo); voice operational smartwatches (such as Martian); hybrid smartwatches; and completely independent smartwatches — i.e. smartwatches that have their own OS and aren’t just playing second fiddle to a smartphone.
In the latter category, ABI cites I’m Watch as an example but also suggests that other “possible archetypes” could be “Apple’s hotly anticipated iWatch, Samsung’s Galaxy Altius and Microsoft['s 'Windows Watch', or whatever catchy name Redmond ends up bestowing on it, if indeed it ends up making such a thing at all]. If Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos or Justin Bieber decide to launch their own Android-powered smartwatches ABI would presumably add those in here too.
“Smartwatches that replicate the functionality of a mobile handset or smartphone are not yet commercially feasible, though the technologies are certainly being prepared,” adds senior analyst Joshua Flood in a quasi-illuminating statement of the potential factors that could influence this nascent market’s potential as the hands on our (non-smart)watches push inexorably on.
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Microsoft is dealing with a touch-enabled smartwatch, states The Exchange Journal. Mentioning unnamed supply chain sources, The Journal declares that Microsoft asked Asian suppliers to deliver elements for the gadget. If the reports are real, Microsoft would be signing up with the similarity Apple, Samsung, Google, and others looking to maximize an anticipated advancement in wearable electronic devices. Microsoft has actually so far refused to comment on the reports.
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Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung are all reportedly working on wrist-worn computing devices behind closed doors, and it seems like that little club of big companies may soon get another member. If a new report from the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, Microsoft has been in touch with an undisclosed number of suppliers who have apparently been tasked with delivering components for a smartwatch-like device that supports touch input.
Now that’s not to say that such a Microsoft smartwatch is a done deal just yet. The Journal’s sources couldn’t confirm that it would ever actually see the light of day, and I’d wager that’s because the folks in Redmond aren’t exactly sure themselves. After all, some of the company’s most intriguing potential products died ignominious deaths after being stuck in the research and production pipeline. Remember the Courier? The curious dual-screen tablet was apparently very far along (according to CNET, an employee who worked on Courier said it could’ve been completed in “months”) before Microsoft announced its demise in 2010.
It doesn’t help that the nascent smartwatch market has proven to be a tough one to crack. After all, the prospect of delivering a compelling user experience on a wrist-worn gadget isn’t a new one, and only a few of those devices (like the Pebble) could be considered anything close to successful.
Microsoft knows this all too well — the Redmond-based company debuted its SPOT (“Smart Personal Objects Technology”) data delivery service back at CES 2003, and it wasn’t long before watchmakers like Fossil, Suunto, and Tissot began folding SPOT into their own timepieces. Microsoft toyed around with at least one SPOT watch concept of its own, but as a company that was devoted largely to its software endeavors, it seemed more than happy to leave the finicky business of building watches to others before ultimately killing SPOT in 2008.
That’s not exactly the Microsoft we know today though. Early, fruitful hardware projects like the XBOX and its successful successor have paved the way for a Microsoft that’s much more willing to take calculated chances on hardware. One could argue that devices like the Zune and Surface/Surface Pro tablets are more reactions to shifts in the consumer tech industry rather than game-changing innovations in their own right, but that’s not necessarily a problem when it comes to mass market gadgetry. The winner isn’t usually the company that does things first, it’s the company that does things best. For all we know, Microsoft could be the company best equipped to take the smartwatch concept and bring it to the masses, but we’ll have to wait and see if Redmond actually rises to that particular challenge first.
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Amidst Apple iWatch rumors and Google Glass sightings, it would appear that Google is actually working on its own smartwatch to be paired alongside connected Android devices. According to the Financial Times, Google’s Android arm will be the team working on the device, as opposed to the X Lab division, which handled Google Glass development.
The wearable computer market is heating up quite rapidly. Alongside Google’s Glass project, a number of smaller OEMs have launched Bluetooth-connected smart watches to work as a companion to the smartphone.
Fossil has a well-crafted MetaWatch, InPulse has the hot-selling Pebble smartwatch, and there are even a handful of quantified self devices that measure your daily activity. There’s the Nike FuelBand, the Jawbone UP, and the Basis to name a few. Add to that an Apple competitor in the iWatch, and a Samsung smartwatch to boot, and it only makes sense that Google has a watch in the works.
Google Glass takes wearable computing a step beyond the basic wrist watch. However, the rate of adoption will almost certainly be lower than that of a watch or a smartphone since the experience is such a huge change in the way we interact with digital content and our world. A smart watch, on the other hand, would feel a lot more like using a really small smartphone, and that familiarity makes the watch a great bridge between smartphones and computational headsets.
Google didn’t comment on the speculation.
However, there’s a patent owned by Google and filed in 2011 for a “smart watch” with a “flip-up display.” It would appear that the patent also provides for a touchscreen experience.
The question isn’t really if Google will build a smart watch. As small OEMs and big competitors around it flood the market with wearable smartwatches, Google will likely need to join the fight. However, it’s unclear what exactly that will look like? Does a flip-up display look like a flip phone?
From the patent filing, the “flip-up display” seems to work like a digital pocket watch, showing two displays when open and a single display on top when closed.
However, just because Google filed this patent, it doesn’t mean that Google’s Android smartwatch will look anything like it.
On the software side, Google has already proven that it can develop for new forms of computing, such as Google Glass. Even some of its already-released apps like Google Now and Field Trip seem like they would fit in swimmingly with a smart watch. Plus, we can’t forget that the acquisition of Motorola has left Google with a rather sizable hardware team.
If you ’ re looking for a smartwatch in the next few years, you most likely succeeded ’ t desire for selection. A brand-new report pegs LG as establishing its own take on the new classification, according to The Korea Times on Friday. LG is allegedly dealing with a smartwatch as well as a product “ similar to Net big ’ s Google Glass, ” according to the paper ’ s sources, as part of a method to stay competitive lasting.
The LG smartwatch is in advancement along with the Glass-like product as a “ non-commercialized ” R&D job, which basically means it isn ’ t prepared to ship. LG, like Samsung and a lot of various other mobile makers, is no stranger to integrating smart phone innovation with watch-based designs. The LG-GD910, for example, was demoed at CES 2009 and included a touchscreen and built-in 3G.
LG joins Samsung (which verified previously this week that it was dealing with a smartwatch), Apple (which hasn ’ t verified anything, but which is reported to be dealing with it from various sources), and now Google (a new FT report claims it ’ s in on the activity simply this morning) as business apparently developing smartwatches. And obviously Sony currently actually shipped one, plus there are providings offered from Pebble and MetaWatch, to name a few.
Basically, everyone has or is dealing with a smartwatch. And while the listing is shorter for Google Glass, at this “ non-commercialized ” stage explained in the Korea Times report today, you can wager your britches everybody else is dealing with that, too. We ’ ve currently seen rumors about Microsoft, Sony and Apple developing Glass-type devices too, and now LG contributes to that listing.
The thing is this: if you ’ re a significant electronics maker, and at this point you haven ’ t appointed at least one man with a lab coat or an engineering degree to look into both wrist- and head-mounted wearable tech, you ’ re already out of touch. For better or for worse, these wearables are happening, and at this point I ’ m more surprised not to hear that a business is working on those locations. I ’ m looking at you HTC and BlackBerry: where are your reports of private research jobs? This doesn ’ t count:
RT @TaylorLorenz: @stevekovach here is unique image of BlackBerry # smartwatch cc @evleaks http://t.co/AjgSPTBTDW— Steve Kovach(@ stevekovach)March 22,
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Exactly what is Kickstarter? The response you’ll hear, as long-winded as it may be, will likely touch on Pebble. If it doesn’t, you’ll most likely want to ask someone else– with more than $ 10 million pledged, the people’s smartwatch catapulted past the crowdfunding site’s records and the startup’s own expectations. It accomplished a $ 100,000 funding goal in two hours, and it was clearly a favorite among our readers. Of course, there were questions that Eric Migicovsky, the business’s creator, would deliver such an appealing and seemingly powerful product for $ 125, but following our first appearance throughout the company’s CES interview, that dream came to be real.
So, what is Pebble? It’s not a smartphone for your wrist, as we have actually seen tried before. In fact, it’s far less sophisticated than you may anticipate– the lightweight device reviews out fundamental text, lets you skip with music tracks and, naturally, shows the time. It’s hardly the biggest accomplishment of our generation, or even the device of the year. It’s become exceptionally preferred, sure, however despite the buzz, you definitely do not require to own one. Yet, somehow, even the most technologically inept people in our lives have actually heard it discussed on morning talk shows, FM radio stations or from pre-teens anxious to excite their buddies. Having a smartphone alone isn’t adequate anymore. Or is it?
Gallery: Pebble smartwatch review
We checked a black Pebble, which is the first color to deliver. The face is slightly glossier than renders implied, but otherwise the production gadget looks nearly exact same to early prototypes. There’s a 22mm rubber strap for mounting the device to your wrist– you’ll likely be able to change in your very own band with matching measurements. It’s a fairly attractive mix, though despite the strap you select, you’ll probably wish to leave Pebble behind during formal occasions, or walks down the runway.
Pebble feels very comfortable when attached on the wrist– it’s relatively lightweight, and the hassle-free edges keep their distance from sensitive skin. Still, it feels strong enough for regular usage, and thanks to waterproofing down to 50 meters (164 feet), it can stay on your wrist during laps in the pool (or in the ocean), and it’ll work just fine in the shower as well. There are two uncovered metal connectors, utilized to pair with the exclusive magnetic USB charging cable television (the just accessory that ships in the box), but the housing appears to be properly sealed.
The secret to Pebble’s weeklong battery life and daylight readability is an innovation that’s penetrated the lives of bibliophiles young and old: an e-paper display. The 114 x 168 black-and-white screen sports almost 20,000 pixels, letting you view e-mails and a time readout in several fonts, in addition to watch faces and various other indicators. The show looks fantastic both indoors and out, though we did see some odd black detecting while seeing the panel in direct sunlight– readjusting the angle eliminates the issue.
There’s a basic backlight that brightens the panel briefly during the night, immediately when you receive a notification or by hand when you activate any of the four side-mounted buttons. It’s fairly dim, enabling you to prevent troubling fellow spectators or that patient significant other sharing your bed, but still bright enough for you to catch every information. Pebble will mirror even a small quantity of background light, nevertheless, so your backlight use is likely to be fairly very little.
Pebble does not provide much functionality without a smartphone. You’ll need one (and an accompanying app) to obtain begun, and although you’ll be able to show the time while detached (in Plane Mode, for example), software updates, function additions and notices all need a Bluetooth connection. Fortunately, there’s Bluetooth 4.0 support, which provides quick performance with decreased energy usage. This likewise adds to Pebble’s weeklong battery life, and a reported 5 to 10 percent struck to your smartphone’s long life.
We’ll detail the interface more in the area below, however because there’s no touch functionality right here, you’ll should navigate secondhanding the four side-mounted buttons. There’s a house (or back) button on the leading left side, which brings you back to Pebble’s major setup page. Positioned to the right of the e-paper panel: a leading button scrolls up, a smaller sized center button makes selections and the control on the bottom scrolls down– through messages, menus or tracks while managing music playback. All these buttons require a firm press, rather than a tap, and while you won’t inadvertently trigger the controls, registering input can take a little effort.
Pebble’s two apps– one for Android 2.3 or later and the 2nd for Apple gadgets running iOS 5 or later– allow every little thing from initial setup to push alerts. There’s no user handbook in the box, so you’ll have to download your respective app to get begun. Coupling takes a couple of seconds, then you’re good to go. The smartwatch will immediately adopt the neighborhood time on your smartphone, and you could choose from a few default watch deals with, ranging from Text Watch, which you’re probably already familiar with, to Classic Analog.
To make the most of the device’s functionality, you’ll have to head back over to the smartphone app, where you could push added watch faces (there are presently just 5 to download, including TicTockToe). Ultimately, this custom app shop will include third-party apps, such as the bike computer system and golf rangefinder that the business pitched on its Kickstarter page, though they’re not readily available now.
The app’s Settings page is where you’ll pick notifications to push. Based on the apps set up on our Galaxy Note II, we had the ability to pick from incoming call notifies, text, calendar tips, email previews, Google Talk messages, Google Voice messages and Facebook messages. Each choice has a checkbox, so if you want to utilize your Pebble for caller ID however do not wish to be troubled with Facebook messages, that’s completely OKAY. With each notification, the watch will vibrate when, the backlight will flip on (for a few seconds) and the message will turn up.
Theoretically, you can simply shake your wrist to dismiss the alert, though we were only able to achieve this by pressing among the buttons. You can select from large and small fonts for alerts, but regardless of the size, you could scroll to see more utilizing the up and down buttons. You’ll should hop over to your smartphone to review the complete message or send a response. Similarly, when you receive a call, your only choice on the watch is to dismiss the notice, however doing this will not submit your caller to voicemail.
Unless you’re looking at your watch every couple of seconds, there will likely come a time when your inbox contains numerous messages. Sadly, Pebble will only show the very last notification got, so it won’t totally eliminate a have to examine your smartphone. Also, it’s not currently able to display certain languages– a message we got with Chinese characters rendered as several lines of rectangles on the display.
At this point, all of the communications between Pebble and a linked smartphone go in one instructions– from your phone to the watch– with one exception. The wrist watch’s music gamer regulates playback on your Android or iOS gadget, consisting of play / pause and track skipping. There’s no volume control, which appears affordable provided the minimal lot of buttons. With our Android phone, the watch had the ability to recognize and control songs from the native app, but not third-party services, such as Spotify.
Although it could appear to be the case offered the exhilaration bordering this launch, Pebble is not the only smartwatch on the market. Sony and now Toshiba are two of the titans behind comparable tech, and the previous business’s SmartWatch ares reasonably priced, at $ 149. Allerta, the business behind Pebble, launched its own wearable numerous years ago, called inPulse, but smartphone compatibility was restricted to BlackBerry designs and certain Android-powered phones, and the gadget makes use of an OLED show. Likewise, WIMM Labs’ WIMM One was offered to designers, however is not in manufacturing.
Pebble’s success stems from the guarantee of third-party apps and the practical e-paper display, together with the advertising power of Kickstarter. Functionality continues to be somewhat restricted, however this is a first-generation gadget from a small manufacturer that’s currently only in the hands of an extremely restricted lot of lucky backers. If customer interest is any indication, developers will likely quickly be hard at work on a variety of one-of-a-kind applications, if they aren’t already. The platform is unbelievably young, and the finest is yet to come.
We’ve truly enjoyed our time with Pebble up until now– it’s not a fashion declaration, always, however we would not be amazed to see it pop up on many wrists in the weeks and months to come. Functionality is still quite restricted at this point, and thinking about how fresh the device is, that’s to be expected. The functions that are currently offered work well, and the smartwatch has actually been a delight to use.
Taking price into account, Pebble is an excellent value, particularly for lucky Kickstarter backers who were able to capitalize on $ 99, $ 115 and $ 125 pre-orders. We’re really optimistic for the device’s future– our chief concern relates not to the hardware, but how it will affect behavior: If you thought that pal who eyes his smartphone every couple of minutes was rude, simply wait until he possesses a Pebble.
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