For the past couple of years we've noticed a shift in focus of dominant players in the smartphone space. As the smartphone market moves from rapid expansion to a maturing phase, the companies on top don't want to be left behind in the same way the notebook PC vendors were at the start of the smartphone/tablet race.

At the same time, continued reduction in transistor feature sizes and power consumption have enabled a new class of low power SoC. ARM's product offerings in particular extend both up and down the power curve. There's Cortex M for ultra low power devices, often perfect for wearables, and then a range of Cortex A CPUs for higher end wearables all the way up to smartphones, tablets and eventually servers. 

Initial successes in the wearables space were specialized pieces of hardware. For example, pedometers and health trackers like the Fitbits of the world. Most of these designs leverage Cortex M series CPU cores. More recently however we've seen a more serious push into the world of smart watches. Initial plays here were more disorganized in terms of hardware and OS selection, but we're beginning to see some consolidation on the heels of Google's Android Wear announcement. 

At last month's Google IO we saw the first official Android Wear devices launch from LG and Samsung. Later this summer we'll also see the arrival of the Moto 360, an arguably much more appealing Android Wear device thanks to a greater focus on design. I've spent the past couple of weeks with LG's G Watch and am still toying with the best way to present my thoughts on the device. In short it seems like a great platform if you're a developer, but honestly lacks the battery life (I measured under 9 hours of actual use, display on but dimmed on a single charge) and feature set today to really convince me as a consumer.

Last month we soft launched our new Wearables content section at AnandTech, with ARM graciously agreeing to be a launch sponsor. ARM's support will allow us to likely do some wearable giveaways in the not too distant future too.

The path to wearable computing becoming something more substantial however demands a lot of things to change. If we're talking about watches we need better battery life, the functionality needs to improve as well (although I am impressed by some of what's already been introduced for Android Wear). I'm curious to get your thoughts on the wearable space. What would it take for you to add yet another computing platform to your life? Is anyone out there waiting for the perfect smart watch? I know I stopped wearing watches nearly a decade ago, and to go back I'll likely need quite a bit of convincing in terms of a great product.

If you've got thoughts on this space, we'd love to hear them as they'll help shape our coverage going forward. Leave your comments below.

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  • xype - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    I think "wearables" will simply come down to having a normal-looking watch with a bunch of health sensors implanted, and no big-ass screen (at least with current battery technology).

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple was the first to do it that way, and then the rest following suit pretending they didn’t come up with the huge amount of ugly watch-like designs for mini touchscreen wearable computres that noone wants.

    The reality is that most people have a smartphone anyway, and there is little need to have _two_ sremi-powerful computers on you, when you can have one with an additional, wearable sensor array to help gather data.
    Reply
  • danrien - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    I have a Pebble and it's fantastic Reply
  • coburn_c - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Cheap junk sold at inflated prices to supplement the coffers of multinationals facing a saturated market. Tamagotchi of the new millennium. Reply
  • amplify_chris - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Looking for wearable computing to be more proactive yo help guide decisions. I'm a runner and I've grown weary of the activity tracker. Smart fabrics is a nice step in the right direction but it has to be real-time and coaching for improving performance. Reply
  • austinsguitar - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    i think that it is dumb to wear this technology simply because it is something they will never perfect in the next 30 years. something fast and does a lot of stuff, in a form factor like my own watch that i gotta quote "never brake and i can wear it anywhere for 4 years and sleep and shower with it." that will likely not happen in my young life... just sayin. Reply
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    I'm the kind of guy who had one of those calculator watches. I'd still be wearing it, but it broke a couple years ago. One thing that I've had trouble with since then is that it's really hard to find out what second it is on Android. Even the wearables today only show minutes, because it'll take too much battery otherwise (though there are some watches with a blinking colon in the middle, so... maybe they could).

    The way I see it, these devices can't be that useful unless I can:
    -Wear it for a week without charging it
    -Look at it any time without fiddling with some kind of activation sequence
    -View it easily in bright sunlight
    -See the number of seconds that have elapsed in this minute

    I've been keeping an eye on some of those with e-ink displays, but there are other technologies coming out. There are some with transflective LCDs that you can actually see pretty well in dimly-lit places, so that's also a possibility.

    I also can't stand the absolutely massive bezels on some of these. The Motorola one looks pretty good in that regard. We're not in the early 2000s anymore.
    Reply
  • TechFan1 - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Augmented reality glasses could be very useful, but it would have to be really good. I would only wear a smart watch if it looked nice, and somehow tracked important health information. I don't see a need for a separate computing device from smartphone, just separate devices that act as sensors/aids for the phone. Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    I want a Moto 360 for the novelty of it all, and to see Android Wear grow first hand... But I don't think a smartwatch will become a must have anytime soon, most consumers would rather spend the same amount of money on something like a tablet...

    Neither device is a necessity, but the watch ends up being more of a luxury and convenience thing than even the tablet. I'm currently using a Nexus 5 & 7 FWIW (first Nexus devices I've owned), and a $50 Fitbit Zip + SanDisk Clip Zip player for exercise (which the watch probably won't displace).

    I'm actually worried that Google locking down the software side of Wear will lead to less innovative devices and less developer interest in the long run. After all, convertibles, phablets and lots of features that are now part of stock Android only came to be because OEMs kept throwing crazy ideas at the proverbial wall.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    Also, I've only really worn a watch in the last 15 years for fashion, when dressing up etc... I do wonder about the the effect of wearing a Moto 360 and having it remind me of appointments and when to leave as Now does on my phone tho. It might just cure my chronic lateness, maybe. Reply
  • CrystalBay - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    Need to be more inexpensive.. Reply

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