Shifting from hand to the wrist [Daily News (South Africa)]
(Daily News (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) With smart watches and fitness armbands that can communicate with smartphones, the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona gave an insight into the future of wearable technology.
The technology market is undergoing profound changes and many hardware manufacturers are suffering from the continuing slump in PC sales. The centre of a person's digital life is now their smartphone, not their PC, and manufacturers are catching up.
Sony presented its new SmartBand, a personal digital diary which is worn as a fashion bracelet and communicates with Android smartphones. It can control, for example, the music on your phone and alerts you to incoming calls.
Huawei exhibited a smart bracelet with a display that can be removed and used as a headset.
Alongside the latest version of its smart watch, the Galaxy Gear, smartphone market leader Samsung displayed a bracelet with a curved AMOLED display called Gear Fit: it measures the wearer's heart rate and counts the number of steps taken. It also informs users when the smartphone receives an e-mail or SMS.
"The smartphone has changed a lot of things, but this is only the beginning," said ST Liew, the smartphone chief at Acer.
The company didn't have any wearable technology in its portfolio, but products were waiting in the wings. "We're working on a number of smartware projects but we're not in a hurry," Liew said.
Samsung is the leader in the area. It realised the smartphone was at the centre of modern life, market researcher IHS said, and rivals would need to hurry if they wanted to catch up. And more surprises will be coming this year, Samsung's Mario Winter has promised.
Liew said it was important to be the first to market with such innovations. "But the question is, the first of what?"
Smart watches have attracted a lot of attention but remain largely a niche market. The technology in a smart watch was important, but so was the design and having well-co-ordinated functionality, said Andre Loenne of HTC. He said his Taiwanese employer saw great potential in the market and was working on a number of concepts.
Smart watches were no longer an experimental field, said Winter. In Germany alone, for example, he said, more than 100 000 of Samsung's smart watches had been sold by the end of last year.
The Gear 2 and Gear Fit will attract further consumer attention and prices are expected to fall as market demand grows. - Sapa-dpa
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