In September, Samsung is expected to show off its most recent entry into the ‘smartwatch’ market, the Galaxy Gear watch.
There’s not yet been any official announcement or press release from Samsung so all this information is rumour and speculation. What we do know for certain is that on July 29th Samsung registered a trademark in the USA for “Samsung Galaxy Gear” (serial number 86022079). The trademark describes
wearable digital electronic devices in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle capable of providing access to the Internet and for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages…
So that’s the smartwatch we’re looking for. There’s also apparently a patetent registered in Korea, unfortunately I don’t speak Korean and can’t find a way of searching the KIPI patent database, thankfully SamMobile have written up a good summary.
Numerous sites (including SamMobile) all come up with similar specs, namely:
- it will run android, probably jelly bean flavour
- 320×320 resolution colour display, it’s not an e-paper screen
- 2 megapixel camera
- dual-core 1.5 GHz processor
- 1 GB memory
- bluetooth, near-field-communication
This is all stuff I expect to fit in a smartwatch, that and the ability to tell the time. There’s some discussion of whether it will have a curved screen, I think this has some credibility but we’ll have to wait for some official announcement to know for sure. There’s no word on what it’ll cost either.
The watch will probably be unveiled either at the IFA trade show in Berlin on the 6th-11th September or at the Samsung Unpacked event in Berlin on the 4th September. Either way, there’s going to be more news in early September, probably centred around Berlin.
What I think is significant about this watch and the new generation of ‘smartwatches’ is that they all exist as standalone devices. Previous generations of smartwatches were just extensions of smartphones, or in the case of sportswatches they were too specialised, too bulky, too expensive. It’s now technologically possible to fit a general-purpose computer on a small watch, and that’s a relatively new thing. Apple are rumoured to be involved in making a smartwatch, and the success of the Pebble project on Kickstarter showed that there’s a lot of demand for it.
The smartwatch is the stuff of dreams, it taps into aspirations built up by years of children’s cartoons showing gadget watches with built-in grappling hooks and holographic displays and all manner of cool stuff. Of course it won’t live up to that, and it’ll also require some rethinking of what it’s actually for. The smartwatch and smartglasses can tell you where you are, what the weather is, the latest news, latest tweet, nearest library, the bus timetable, the recipe for a lemon meringue pie, and so on. By design these devices are aimed at feeding you information, you’re just a passive consumer. That’s fine because we live in a consumerist society and that frames the relationship between the user and their technology. The downside is that these devices are incapable of registering much user input and they’re severely limited in terms of creative applications. I’m sure they’ll improve our everyday lives, but they also represent a break with the idea of computers as tools for production.
There’s something to the name too, the ‘gear watch’. It conjures up visions of wheels and cogs whirring against one another, harking back to old mechanical timepieces. I wonder if Samsung are going to play on that in their advertising, or whether it’ll just fit right in line with the branding of the rest of the Galaxy series.