Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 24, 2013

Google May Have the Key to Killing Smartphones

The idea of a watch-based cell phone may not be particularly new--just ask Dick Tracy--but a watch-based smartphone, now, that's something wholly different. Google (News - Alert) is currently in process, according to unnamed sources, of developing such a watch, and marketing it to the larger phone-buying public.

The history of said device goes back to last October, when Google got a patent for a smart watch, complete with a flip-up display. Recent information, meanwhile, has detailed that the watch isn't just a patent any more, but rather quite on its way to being available. The watch itself, meanwhile, offers a variety of functions, like giving directions, displaying e-mail notifications, and getting information about products in what looks like a sort of augmented reality-style display. Plus, the watch could offer a variety of more standard applications like calendar functions, time and temperature issues, and several others with an apps-based system.

This actually coincides with an interesting period in current technological history. Wearable computing is a market steadily in a growth phase right now, and a lot of potential applications are coming around for this technology. Apple (News - Alert) is said to be working on an iOS-driven smart watch of its own, complete with Bluetooth connectivity and a 1.5 inch screen. Pebble, a similar smart watch operation, raised fully $10 million on a Kickstarter project to develop a smart watch that it's now ready to ship over 69,000 units' worth of to various customers. 

Pebble Kickstarter Video from Pebble Technology on Vimeo.


Couple Google's development of the Google Glass project with a watch-based smartphone and new possibilities open up. Perhaps the phone's display could be augmented by a head-mounted display unit, something that's been on a lot of users' minds for some time. Several possibilities open up for Google to explore, including the use of things like Google's Field Trip app, which would provide information about points of interest as users walk past them, an application tailor-made for a watch platform.

What's more, other companies are at work on smart watches, and watch-based cell phones, complete with at least some apps, have been around for quite some time from mostly Chinese firms, like the "Rock" phone watch from Chinavasion powered by Android (News - Alert) with a two inch capacitive screen.

The question, of course, is when will these devices make a larger appearance? It's clear that the idea of wearable technology is important, and growing in popularity. Wearable technology's ultimate portability takes care of many problems posed by tablets, phablets, and even some smartphones. It's clear that a market already exists for such technology, and as it improves, the market is likely to only get more substantial. Google can ill afford to be left out of a growing market, especially a growing market that's likely to cannibalize current smartphone markets as users migrate to a different form factor.

If the performance of wearable technology can be brought on par with--or even surpassing--current form factors, it's likely that more users won't be carrying their devices with them, but will be wearing them instead.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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