Will your next smartphone be on your wrist? The possibility of that happening may increase, if rumors that Samsung will release a smart watch in early September are accurate.
The reports center on an event that Samsung has planned for Sept. 4 in Berlin, two days before the giant IFA consumer electronics show there, and one week before Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone. According to Bloomberg News Service, the Android-based device will be called the Galaxy Gear, and it will be able to make phone calls, surf the Web, e-mail and perform other functions we now associate with smartphones.
Bloomberg cited "two people familiar with the matter" who remain unidentified. Samsung has reportedly been working on several forms of flexible displays, but Bloomberg says that the initial version of this device will not utilize such technology. Samsung confirmed to news media several months ago that it was developing a smart watch.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that he was "absolutely expecting to see smart watches from a variety of vendors" soon. The "tipping point" has been reached, he said, since the "technology in smartphones has gotten small enough" that useful functions can be handled by small, wearable devices.
He pointed out that "consumers are already walking around with these small computers in their pocket," meaning smartphones, and now some of that work can be offloaded to small companion devices like a smart watch. Greengart said it wasn't clear if Samsung was actually going to unveil its smart watch on Sept. 4, but he was expecting the next version of the Galaxy Note tablet to be shown then. Reports indicate that the next Note, the Galaxy Note 3, will be a combination smartphone and tablet.
No one actually knows how big the market for smart watches might be, given that the few examples currently on the market are from small players, except for a smart watch line from Sony that has not exactly been burning up the shelves with sales. But most of the major consumer electronics companies are reportedly busy working on their entries into wearable computing.
4k, Biometric ID
Apple, for instance, is said to have a team of about 100 designers working on a watch-like device, which it is expected to introduce later in 2013. The rivalry in smartphones and tablets between Samsung, now the world's largest smartphone maker, and Apple is expected to continue when the companies' smart watches hit the market.
As smart watches begin to take some of the workload from their older smartphone relatives, smartphones are beginning to move up the ladder. For instance, Sony is expected to introduce a new Xperia smartphone next month that could include imaging technology developed for its cameras and ultra-high-definition 4K TVs.
There have also been reports that Apple will introduce biometric identification technology, such as a fingerprint sensor, in its new iPhone.