Originally, the term “smartwatch” means any wrist accessory, capable of more than just show the current time and date. Whereas, in the modern sense of smartwatch it is an electronic device that actively interacts with the smartphone or else directly to the Internet services.
The first attempt
In nineteenth century the personal watch - yet pocket, not wrist - became for gentlemen of polite society (modern “middle class”), almost a must-have accessory. Pocket watches were a sign not only of wealth, but also of a good taste. The more expensive models, though they were not cheap, passed down from grandfather to father, and from father to son. Fortunately, technology became senile not so fast as it is now, and therefore having a little thing of a half century in your pocket was quite normal.
A pocket watch on a chain - historical first type of wearable watches
Watches began “getting smarter” in the second half of the twentieth century, long before the advent of mobile phones. In 1972, the Hamilton Watch Company began producing electronic watches called Pulsar. Hamilton Watch Electronic devices have proved very successful and even managed to light up in the film. However, in 1978, the brand Pulsar was bought by Japanese company Seiko.
Related: From idea to success
Period of Japanese watchmakers
In 1982, Seiko produced the world’s first truly smartwatch - Pulsar Memowatch (NL C01).
The electronic device could remember the lyrics of 24symbols, which made it suitable for creating short notes. Then the “arms race” joined major Seiko competitors on japanese and global market - Casio and Citizen watch companies.
In 1983 an updated model of smart Seiko watches called Data 2000 was released, which came with the keyboard dock. Text information was now stored directly in the docking station, thus it became possible to make notes up to 2000 symbols.
Smartwatches Seiko Data 2000 with a keyboard dock (1983)
In 1984, Seiko introduced the smartwatches D409, during the creation of which was decided to make a number of compromises. In comparison with the previous model, the memory capacity has decreased to 112 symbols, moreover manufacturers decided to surrender from the cumbersome docking stations and introduce a mini-keyboard as an integral part of a smartwatch.
Applied in a model D409 design has become the basis for a future line of smartwatches Seiko RC, that became one of the most successful in the history of the company.
Seiko RC-1000 Wrist Terminal - both watch and terminal remote access to the PC (1984)
When designing the model RC-20 Wrist Computer, Seiko engineers have decided to go even further - to turn the watch into real PC. As a result, the device has got a monochrome LCD display 42 × 32 pixels, 8-bit microprocessor Zilog Z80, 2 KB RAM and 8 KB non-volatile memory. However, without the docking station there was nothing to do. Among the standard application RC-20 Wrist Computer there were notes, world clock and a scientific calculator.
Actually, what else did we need at that time?
Period of American IT-giants
Smart Clock RC-20 Wrist Computer - released by Epson, Seiko computer division (1985)
Since the beginning of the third millennium, American computer giants became interested in the concept of smartwatches as a personal digital assistant. So, in 2000 IBM presented their vision of smartwatches - Linux Watch Project.
A prototype of IBM Linux Watch had LCD display 96 × 120 pixels, 32-bit energy-efficient processor with a frequency of 18 MHz, 8 MB RAM and the same amount of non-volatile memory. Wireless interfaces were presented with an infrared port and Bluetooth module. All that were controlled by Linux operating system, over which was set a lightweight graphical shell X11.
Later, IBM designed the updated version of the smartwatch: a 74 MHz processor and OLED-display with an extension of 640 × 480 pixels. However, further than a prototype, Linux Watch Project didn’t move.
The first and second prototype smartwatches IBM Linux Watch (2000)
Microsoft has moved from words to action and launched a project called SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology). Its goal was to make household appliances and portable gadgets “smart” with the help of special applications . To synchronize data between the devices were proposed to use VHF radio frequency, for which the user beared a license fee per year. The first who supported the SPOT concept were such watchmakers as: Fossil, Suunto, Tissot, Swatch and Garmin. Even the head of Microsoft - Bill Gates wore a smartwatch. Unfortunately, SPOT project couldn’t gain enough public love and was closed in 2008.
We should also mention the watch phone and later watch smartphones. Such devices were represented by many companies from LG to AirOn. Such devices are still commercially available and continue to evolve.
In a new way smartwatches started to be perceived with the beginning of post-computer era (2010). At that time it became possible not only to create tiny, still powerful enough electronic gadgets, but also to get an access to the Internet via them anywhere and anytime. The range of smartwatches is already quite decent, monthly updated with new models. It is pleased that not only large manufacturers develop such devices, but also start-ups.
The new Apple Watch is also worth mentioning, it was released in April this year. It has some changes in design and few more functions than the original smartwatch:
nightstand mode - suggests that when the user puts a smartwatch to charge, it has the duties of the bedside alarm clock - the display goes off and displays the current time on a black background. Buttons in this mode turn off the alarm function (main button), and the Digital Crown wheel allows to postpone the alarm for some time in order to watch the dream to the end;
options - you may choose a style and size of your smartwatch: two sizes (38mm and 42mm) are available in three model options (standard, sport and gold) with various armlets.
Sony SmartWatch 2, Pebble E-Paper Watch and Cooko
Waiting for tomorrow…
Considering the pros and cons of smartwatch, it is badly individual issue. But what really matters is how a smartwatch can help your business.
Travelling. Imagine having access to your airport boarding pass, manage a navigation, updates and notifications, everything is safely wrapped around your wrist. With this in mind, it is clear that the use of a smartwatch can reduce the anxieties and headache of frequent travel.
Notes and dictation. With a help of a microphone in smartwatch you may know latest news, note important messages, follow an exchange rate or simply get to know the weather for a weekend. That is really useful when you don’t have enough time or “free hands” to look for essentials directly in the Internet - a viable consideration for increasing productivity, isn’t it?
Task Management. The ability to comply terms or track meetings is greatly improved with the invention of a smartwatch. Keeping all notifications about the incoming events, birthdays, meetings on your wrist will definitely make you allocate the time effectively.
Still, manufactures have taken the first step, now it’s time for buyers word. After all, no matter how interesting the idea was, without active consumers’ demand it won’t survive. So, would you allow a smartwatch to replace your grandad’s one? Would you need all the functions that smartwatch offers?