Connected devices. We love ‘em. But the smartphone and tablet market have already become saturated, and the public excitedly awaits the “next big thing” from Apple in particular. Known for setting the bar in consumer electronics, Apple is due for a revolutionary new device. While we don’t know exactly what that device will be, the latest rumors hint strongly at a wristwatch, dubbed the iWatch. Now we learn that Samsung is most definitely creating a smartwatch of its own, possibly beating Apple to the punch. We’ll call it the S-Watch.
But the concept of a smartwatch is nothing new. And even as we can predict a righteous battle between Apple and Samsung to dominate the smartwatch market, there’s a relatively recent precedent both companies should consider.
Learning from LG’s #fail
In 2008, LG showed off the Watch Phone at the Consumer Electronics show. It once again made an appearance at CES 2009, showing off a new design and better features. A month later, the Watch Phone went on sale for £1,000 in the UK Orange network. Everyone was amazed. Who wouldn’t want to walk around looking like a secret agent?
The LG Watch Phone features a 1.4” TFT capacitive touchscreen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, Bluetooth 2.0, loudspeaker, it can make or receive calls, has a VGA camera for video calls, a Li-ion battery that lasts up to 247 hours on standby with two-hour talk time. It’s also able to send SMS, EMS, and MMS, can browse the internet via GPRS or EDGE, has text-to-speech capabilities, speech recognition, MP3 player, organizer, predictive text input, and it is IPX4 certified – water jets resistant.
The LG Watch Phone seems like a pretty decent watch-phone combo for its time. Remember, it was released in 2009, so its specifications aren’t that bad, considering. So why did it fail? Why didn’t people want it?
First, it’s because of the price. It’s too expensive at £1,000. Another downside is the really small screen. And last, the design. It’s just not trendy enough for the hipster or the mature crowd, given its price point and overall look.
So what do the iWatch and the S-Watch need to succeed?
Bigger, flexible screen
When Samsung unveiled the Youm flexible OLED screen, we did a piece on possible uses, one of which is a smart slap bracelet, or slap smartphone. Then the rumors regarding the iWatch being a slap bracelet type of device surfaced, which made me think I should change careers – just kidding! Anyway, having the whole bracelet serve as a screen would solve the small screen problem that’s limited the success of the LG Watch Phone. Plus, with its flexible nature, users can unroll it to expose a QWERTY keyboard for easier texting and e-mailing.
A SIM slot so it can connect to 2G, 3G and even 4G networks would enable users can call, text, browse the internet, download apps, video call and perform other activities that require a network carrier. They could also support WiFi so data plans won’t be too quickly consumed. Other specs we’d like to see include a loudspeaker, microSD slot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity, gesture. wireless or USB charging, long battery life, GPS, radio, 3.5mm jack, EDGE, GPRS, mic, supports HTML5 and Flash.
Even if the iWatch or the S-Watch comes with a flexible and bigger screen, it will still be too small for some users. A voice-activated personal assistant that can type messages for you, make notes, set up calendar appointments, search the web , post on social media, make new entries in the phonebook is needed. But Apple and Samsung should make sure that it’s voice recognition technology is flawless, so it won’t be frustrating to use.
The iWatch and S-Watch should have an HD video call camera and a second camera for capturing what life has to offer. If it’s a slap bracelet device, the camera can function as the main and video call camera. If the smart watch looks something like the LG Watch Phone, the video call camera could be placed on the watch’s screen and the other camera will be placed on the right, left or top side of the watch, so the user can easily capture images without having to remove the watch.
Fitness tracker + other services
This is a huge deal nowadays as consumer-accessible data empowers individuals to improve through self-awareness. So incorporating a step counter, calorie counter, distance tracker, heart rate monitor, blood pressure calculator, temperature reader, and hell, even blood glucose measurer would make the watch a great fitness companion.
This is only one of many Consumer Services and Smart Apps a smartwatch could promote, leveraging its Personal Assistant capabilities to help with task and calendar management meal planning, trip-planning and more.
Unlike a smartphone, the iWatch or S-Watch will be worn on the body, exposed to the elements for extended periods of time. Its construction will need to be water, dust and klutz-resistant.
The iWatch or S-Watch should be waterproof (what it you could wear it while scuba diving, helping you monitor your oxygen saturation?); dustproof so you can withstand sandstorms because you’re just that much of a thrill-seeker; shatterproof because you’re that much of a klutz , and shockproof because you never know how your luck would turn out when you’re out.
Those are just some of the features that the iWatch or S-Watch would need in order to be successful. But what do you think? What features, capabilities and services would you like to see in a smartwatch?