For all the talk about the Samsung Gear, the Qualcomm Toq and the expected smartwatches from Apple and Microsoft, perhaps few saw this one coming. Nissan is officially the first car manufacturer to create a smartwatch designed specifically for drivers of its Nismo cars.
The Nissan Nismo Concept Watch will be the first smartwatch to connect a driver to the car and will provide drivers with real-time biometric data. The automaker is unveiling its wearable technology at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month.
"Wearable technology is fast becoming the next big thing and we want to take advantage of this innovative technology to make our Nismo Brand more accessible," said Gareth Dunsmore, Marketing Communications General Manager for Nissan in Europe. "On track, Nissan uses the latest biometric training technologies to improve the performance of our Nissan Nismo Athletes and it is this technology we want to bring to our fans to enhance their driving experience and Nismo ownership."
Smartwatches Cross Boundaries
The Nismo Watch will come in three colors -- black, white and the flagship black and red. The user interface can be controlled by two buttons and is secured onto the driver's wrist with a snap-fit mechanism. The smartwatch will use a lithium battery and can be charged by micro-USB. Nissan is promising a battery life of more than seven days under normal usage conditions.
The smartwatch will allow drivers to: monitor the efficiency of their vehicles with average speed and fuel consumption readings; access vehicle telematics and performance data while on track; capture biometric data via a heart rate monitor; connect to their cars using a smartphone app via Bluetooth Low Energy; and receive tailored car messages from Nissan.
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, a wireless industry analyst in Atlanta, to get his take on the latest smartwatch unveiling. He told us the wireless industry just keeps creeping past its old borders as it continues to grow. "We thought smartwatches were going to be a brand new category in just the wireless world," he said, "but it looks like it's an idea that's bursting past traditional boundaries."
Niche Smartwatches Rising
Kagan asked a pointed question: Will a smartwatch tied to a car make sense? It will for a slice of the consumer pie, not for everyone. But, he added, maybe that's how the smartwatch industry will shake out.
"First, a smartwatch will not be interesting to everyone. Just to one slice of the consumer pie," he said. "Now it looks like that slice is going to be divided up into smaller slices from different wireless companies and in fact different industries."
If Nissan is introducing a smartwatch for the auto world, the next question is what's next? Kagan pondered: "Will we have smartwatches connected to our kitchen appliances that let us control the heat of the oven or let us flip a pancake? We'll just have to wait and see what happens next."
A Futuristic Vision
Nissan is already working on what's next. Earlier this year, the company launched the Nismo Lab -- a laboratory that features advanced biometric training tools such as brainwave technology -- and JukeRide, performance analysis tools that capture live biometric and telematics data from the race cars and Nissan Nismo Athletes during races.
Nismo's vision is to take these digital age technologies and make them available to athletes from other disciplines and to Nissan owners through future wearable tech.
Three key technologies have already identified for future development: ECG to measure the intervals of heart's rhythm and identify early fatigue; EEG Brainwave to monitor the drivers' levels of concentration and emotions; and skin temperature to record core body temperature and hydration levels.
The Nismo Concept Watch will also track and rate the user's social performance across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram via Nissan's proprietary Social Speed software.