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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  • djc208 - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    I think the mainstream here will be much simpler than most of the manufacturers are doing right now. I think a Chromecast like device for $50~100 that is a decent watch and can also display alerts, and provides some fitbit like capability.

    Pulling out your phone isn't that big of a deal for most, the watch is all about quickly checking basics like time and notifications to see if pulling the phone out is needed. Trying to make them a smaller screen phone-like device is just overkill and most aren't going to see the need to spend $$$s on a watch to do the same thing they can do just by pulling out their phone. Over time the tech may improve to encompass more of the features they want now but I think they're aming too high too soon.
    Reply
  • rocktober13 - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    My thoughts are similar to most it seems; wearables need to look better and have much better battery life (a week minimum) before I will consider buying one. I recently started wearing a watch again and I do find it more convenient and professional for telling time when compared to a phone. Reply
  • Rocket321 - Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - link

    Needs:
    5 day battery life
    Viewability in sunlight
    Metal watch and band
    Fitness tracking
    $120 price point.
    I'm guessing we are 3-5 years away from hitting most of those needs but I'll keep an eye on the space until we get there.
    Reply
  • val1984 - Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - link

    I've been wearing a pebble (the plastic one) for six months. It's the first watch I've worn since the 90s.

    Its screen is as readable in full sunlight as in the dark (you just have to flick your wrist to turn backlight on for a few seconds). Its battery lasts a week, more or less (depending on the watchface you use, the number of notifications you get etc.). It uses Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. There are numerous watchfaces and apps available in the pebble app store (but it's still in its infancy so for example, there are no worthy swimming trackers right now). It works with almost all smartphones (iPhone in my case).

    I don't miss phone calls anymore since it vibrates on the wrist. But you have to alter some settings to avoid being flooded by notifications on the pebble. Other than that, there's not much you can do with 4 physical buttons except looking at the clock, reading notifications or using one of the few actually useful apps in the pebble app store.

    One last remark: receiving Google maps pedestrian notifications actually works quite well to find your way when you have to walk somewhere you don't know.
    Reply
  • shlagevuk - Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - link

    Personally, I crave for a good HUD (google glass?) and some kind of control interface like the wristband that sense muscles contraction to track finger movement. The two input and output devices managed wirelessly with a smartphone-like device, probably smaller because it didn't need to have such huge screen as now.

    As for the incoming smartwatch or smart devices announced, I see almost no interest as to buy them. The only useful thing that can come through these devices are body sensor for sports or health related application.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - link

    I think it will be very important for wearables to have a standard platform and protocol to follow. If we end up with a marketplace where you buy a device, that works with other devices, then years later when you buy a new one you have to replace all the devices it works with we will have a highly unsustainable market. That seems to be what they're going for now, especially Samsung.

    I personally cannot stand things on my wrist, so I will never be a part of the smartwatch industry. But I predict it will always have a niche market. To this day there are people who, for whatever reason, love their watches.

    I would be a lot more interested in implants. Google glass is interesting, though limited.

    You ever watch Andromeda? I wanna be able to interface with computers with my mind, like Harper does. That's the dream, right there. Preferably wirelessly though...
    Reply
  • hp79 - Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - link

    I still think it's gay to wear these things. Too bulky, not practical. Maybe in a couple years from now it'll be better. Reply
  • Antronman - Thursday, July 17, 2014 - link

    While I am not gay, there are likely a number of homosexuals that are Anandtech regulars whom you just offended, and I would like to ask the moderators to remove your comment. Reply
  • willis936 - Sunday, July 27, 2014 - link

    While I'm not a virgin I can say you're an embarrassment to virgins everywhere. Reply
  • Antronman - Thursday, July 17, 2014 - link

    Not very interested at all in what is currently offered.

    The most interesting thing available is Oculus Rift, and I don't like some of the choices the developers opted for.

    Until I get a smartwatch with a screen that is capable of being 6" wide and at a 16:9 display ratio, without it being very clumsy/unwieldy/large, I'm not too interested in the wearables market.
    Reply

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