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Coming soon: Better and smarter watches

Jack Loo | April 30, 2013
More than one million smart watches will be shipped in 2013, says ABI Research

The wearable computing devices, or smart watches, have failed for one reason or another. They were too bulky, had weak functionality, or came with poor battery life.

But a new wave of smart watches unveiled over the last nine months can help change negative views, according to ABI Research. Analysts from the market intelligence firm are saying more than 1.2 million smart watches will be shipped this year.

"The strong potential emergence of smart watches can be attributed to several reasons," said ABI Research senior analyst Joshua Flood. "Contributing factors include 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."

The wearable computing device can be split into four categories: notification types, voice operational smart watches, hybrid smart watches, and completely independent smart watches. Notification type devices are the MetaWatch and Cookoo smart watches, for example, offering alerts for incoming calls, messages and other notifications.

Voice operational smart watches enable users to conduct calls and speak some commands via the device such as Martian's smart watch.

Standalone smart watches with their own OS are moving beyond a smartphone accessory. With the potential to be purchased as a standalone product without the need for a smartphone, they offer high functionality and can connect to other consumer devices like audio speakers.

A good example is the Italian smart watch maker, I'm Watch. Other possible archetypes for this category could be Apple's hotly anticipated iWatch, Samsung's Galaxy Altius and Microsoft is also reportedly planning to release a new touch-enabled watch for its Windows-based smartphones and tablets.

"Smart watches that replicate the functionality of a mobile handset or smartphone are not yet commercially feasible, though the technologies are certainly being prepared," added Flood.


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