“Smartwatches” could well be the next big thing in technology - turning the wristwatch from a humble time-telling gizmo into something much more.
Samsung is the first big company to “break cover” - but others are set to follow, bringing email and apps to our wrists, and offering the world a taste of “wearable computing”.
Samsung has confirmed it will be announcing its Galaxy Gear smartwatch during Berlin’s IFA trade show next week and it will, they promise, “enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways. It will lead a new trend in smart mobile communications”.
Samsung aren’t the first to do it - and won’t be the last, given the rumours of an Apple iWatch which have bubbled along so persistently.
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The gadgets hit headlines after the cult Pebble “smart watch” launched via crowd funding site Kickstarter. The watch, priced at $150 (£95), shipped this year, after fans raised $10.2million for the hi-tech gadget in just 120 days.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is rumoured to sport a 2.5-inch screen, with a camera integrated into the strap and a speaker in the watch’s clasp. In true smartwatch fashion, there are sensors galore, such as a built-in accelerometer so when you lift it to your face, the watch wakes up.
The iWatch is only a rumour at the moment, with concepts flying around left, right and centre - but you don’t have to wait to wear a taste of the future. Several companies already offer the gadgets now.
Sony SmartWatch 2 - £109.99
Sony’s effort comes with an aluminium body and silicon or metal stainless steel wristband, is water resistant and charges with a micro USB. It has VFinder which allows you to use the phone’s camera as a live video feed to the watch - James Bond-esque, and scary - and you download apps to make it work such as a weather app, Twitter app, phone app and text message app. Once you’ve got the apps you want, it will do a bunch of nifty things like vibrate when a call is coming through and alert you when you get a Twitter update.
The $150 Pebble uses Bluetooth and accelerometers (for fitness apps) and works as as an extension to your iPhone or Android device. It is waterproofed up to five atmospheres, allows you to control music from your wrist and texts and emails will appear on the face. Pebble will vibrate when you are receiving a phone call, giving you the option of answering or rejecting and it comes in red, white, black, orange and grey.
Hyetis Crossbow smartwatch
At a pretty hefty $1,200 price tag, the Hyetis Crossbow comes with a 41-megapixel camera at 12 o’clock. It has a touch screen so you can navigate through notifications and manages Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC links. Crossbow can also monitor your physical condition using sensors and is compatible with Android, iOS and Windows 8.