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
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.