Less than a decade ago, few expected that smart phones would someday become indispensable to our daily lives. However, today, smart phones have entrenched themselves as the paradigm of this smart technology era by inextricably interweaving with our daily lives in tandem with the transitions from fixed-line phones to cordless telephones and from mobile phones to smart phones.
Then, what kinds of new technologies will head up both smart phones and new paradigms for a new era Advances in smart device technologies, best represented by wearable devices, probably flash across many people’s minds. Making a departure from control technologies dependent on a mouse or a keyboard, the world will see new control technologies, which have been often seen in science fiction films (e.g. controlling objects through human senses, thoughts or eye movements), taking root as a new paradigm for the smart technology era.
The front-runner that leads the smart device pack in line with new market expectations is definitely smart watches. Competition in the smart watch market has been heating up faster than any other market as early comers, such as Samsung Electronics, Apple, Sony and Motorola, have been vying against one another to expand market share and as latecomers, like Google and LG Electronics, have also jumped into the smart watch fray. Against this backdrop, it would be nice to take a closer look at what kinds of smart watches are put on the market and their distinguishable features.
The LG G Watch
On March 18, LG Electronics and Google took the wraps off their jointly-developed smart watch, the LG G Watch, powered by Android Wear (a software platform for building new Android wearables).
Thus, the LG G Watch can work with all the smartphones running the Android operating system. The G Watch’s key features are divided largely into two: convenience-oriented functions (e.g. Google Maps and Google Hangouts) and informative functions (e.g. Google Now, which delivers information in the form of “cards” to the user, which it predicts the user will want, based on its analysis of the user’s search queries and repeated actions, such as common locations and repeated calendar appointments, etc.)
For instance, when you are headed for the bus stop you frequent, Google Now’s traffic and transit card will automatically inform you of bus arrival times. In addition, it will automatically offer you updated information related to your areas of interest and hobbies. It also supports the Ok Google voice command. Hence the user can simply say “Ok Google” to ask questions or get things done.
Motorola’s the Moto 360
Not to be outdone by LG Electronics, Motorola timed the unveiling of the Moto 360 to coincide with that of the LG G Watch. The Moto 360, also powered by Google’s Android Wear, shows off e-mail, text messages, automatic alarm settings and voice command functions.
The thing that sets the Moto 360 apart from other smart watches is its classic design. As shown above, the Moto 360 looks like a round-shaped analog wristwatch, somewhat unique for a smart watch. “The wristwatch has been through several evolutions since it first became a popular fashion accessory more than 100 years ago. From mechanical to electronic movements, analog to digital faces, the wristwatch has been reinvented several times over, but the basic design has endured for a century because of its elegance and usefulness ‘at a glance.’ Our vision for Moto 360 was to celebrate that history as we reimagined the wristwatch for the future,” Motorola explained in its official blog.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear
The Galaxy Gear is the first wearable device developed by Samsung Electronics. This Android-based smart watch features nearly 70 Galaxy Gear-only apps and a 1.9-megapixel camera built into its strap. What’s more, its Smart Relay function enables the Galaxy Gear to sync with the Galaxy Note 3.
The Galaxy Gear, equipped with a 320 x 320-pixel AMOLED touchscreen, is available in six color variations. The battery pack within the the Galaxy Gear supports 25 hours of continued use, which means the Galaxy Gear needs to be charged on a daily basis, a weakness pointed out by many.
The Sony SmartWatch 2
The SmartWatch 2, an Android-based smart watch produced by Sony, also furnishes several SmartWatch2-only apps, just like the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The Sony SmartWatch 2, the third iteration of Sony’s smart watch, boasts its excellent water-resistant capability: it can remain watertight at up to 1m deep for about 30 minutes. Its interoperability is also deserving of attention. It is compatible with any Android-based smartphones running Android 4.0 and above and it will run for over three days on a single charge. However, there is a caveat: it does not come with a camera.
The Pebble, a smart watch developed by Pebble Technology and released in 2013, is somewhat old-fashioned compared to the recently-unveiled smart watches. For those who look for a built-in camera, phone functions, a touch screen and voice-activated commands, the Pebble is not the answer. Instead, just like traditional wrist watches, the user can control the Pebble’s varied functions via the buttons placed on the left and right sides of its face. It comes in five different colors - black, white, red, gray and orange. The Pebble has been well received by consumers, who prefer easy-to-control smart watches with simple designs.
The Adidas miCoach Smart Run
The Adidas miCoach Smart Run, Adidas’s first entry into the smart watch market, is packed with GPS, Wi-Fi connection and an accelerometer. It works more like a personal fitness coach on the wrist: it tracks the user’s heart rate and offers various customized fitness programs. The miCoach Smart Run also acts as a music player. The user can listen to music on the miCoach via Bluetooth, wearing wireless headphones. Its Adidas-specific simple but chic black design and battery life of up to one week on a single charge greatly appeal to young people enjoying workouts and sports.