Next Gen Smart Watches

Put your Rolex back in its box. These ten fu­tur­is­tic smart watches can do so much more than keep track of time

Business Traveler (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Caramel Quin

Are you wear­ing a watch right now? Per­haps not, since with the birth of smart­phones, time­pieces have stopped be­ing es­sen­tial. And yet, over the next year or two, the same com­pa­nies who brought us smart­phones – with fea­tures we didn’t know we needed – want to trans­form our wrist­wear. The gad­get in­dus­try has de­clared 2014 to be the year of wear­able tech­nol­ogy. Few nor­mal people would want to go around in funny-look­ing specs such as Google Glass or Ocu­lus Rift, but give them an el­e­gant watch that can be cus­tom­ized at the touch of a but­ton to suit their style, and the trend be­comes much more in­ter­est­ing.

All the watches fea­tured here of­fer no­ti­fi­ca­tions of some sort – so you can leave your phone in your pocket or bag and still know who’s call­ing, and of­ten re­ceive text mes­sages, e-mails and so­cial me­dia up­dates too.

If you travel for busi­ness, no­ti­fi­ca­tions are great for keep­ing in touch dis­creetly. For ex­am­ple, you might not look at your phone in the mid­dle of a meet­ing but you can glance at your watch for just long enough to read im­por­tant news from a col­league. At home, the fea­ture is equally im­por­tant – if you’ve been away all week, it’s best to avoid the mod­ern ten­dency of star­ing at your smart­phone over break­fast.

Mo­tion-track­ing fea­tures that mon­i­tor your fit­ness and sleep are good ad­di­tions as well – you don’t need to pack a sep­a­rate wrist­band if you want to track your runs. And it’s worth con­sid­er­ing one of the larger smart watches for the ex­tra apps, which al­low you to do things such as nav­i­gate new cities us­ing maps di­rectly on your wrist.

When choos­ing a smart watch, there are two key fac­tors to con­sider. The first is the op­er­at­ing sys­tem – will it work with your Ap­ple (iOS) or An­droid smart­phone? The sec­ond is whether you’d like one that’s el­e­gant and stylish, or fea­ture-packed but bulky and pricey.

Right now, you can’t have both. Watches like the Sam­sung Galaxy Gear and Nep­tune Pine are im­pres­sive, but they’re large and have a“beam me up Scotty”sci-fi feel. On the other hand, fash­ion smart watches like Cookoo, Mar­tian No­ti­fier and MyKronoz ZeBracelet look great, but their ca­pa­bil­i­ties are much more ba­sic. The Peb­ble is ar­guably the first smart watch to bal­ance form and func­tion.

Look­ing for­ward, all eyes are on Ap­ple and Google to see if they en­ter the mar­ket. There’s noth­ing yet from HTC and Nokia. Are these big play­ers sit­ting back and wait­ing for the dust to set­tle be­fore launch­ing su­perb smart watches of their own? Or will the best ones come from brands that have been in this new prod­uct cat­e­gory from the be­gin­ning, such as Sony?

In­no­va­tions to watch in­clude en­ergy-ef­fi­cient dis­plays like Mi­ra­sol, seen in the Qual­comm Toq, and band-to-band com­mu­ni­ca­tion spotted in the up­com­ing Razer Nabu. What’s more, there’s huge app po­ten­tial for busi­ness – for ex­am­ple, you could au­to­mat­i­cally con­nect on LinkedIn when you shake some­one’s hand.

For now, buy a smart watch if you’re a technophile, an early adopter or you sim­ply like the idea of stay­ing in touch with­out star­ing at your smart­phone all the time. And if there isn’t one that takes your fancy yet, just wait. There soon will be.

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