Posts tagged race
I want a smartwatch. Not just because I am a gadget nerd or because owning one will be, more or less, a professional requirement. I want one because I see the potential of having a data connected device on my arm with a variety of sensors provides extraordinary value… if done right.
That is the kicker – Done Right. The danger with the coming smartwatch revolution is that the various vendors vying to dominate this new market may try to do what is right for them and not necessarily what is right for consumers. That means creating proprietary ecosystems that don’t work together across platforms.
Smartwatches Shouldn’t Need Smartphones
A watch, almost by definition, is a closed loop (otherwise it might fall off your wrist). That doesn’t mean a smartwatch should be a closed loop, too.
And they all want you to stay immersed in their own competing environments. If you are using iOS, Apple is doing everything it can to make sure you mate the iWatch to your iPhone and iPad and even your Mac. Samsung has developed its latest Galaxy S4 flagship smartphone to heavily integrate its own custom-built apps, often instead of similar apps made by Google for Android. Google itself is more interested in getting you online and using Google apps like Gmail, Talk, Maps and so on.
This is a classic defintion of a closed loop (sometimes also referred to as a “walled garden”). Everything happens with the environment – there is no reason to leave the loop and outsiders are usually not welcome.
“The complete path followed by a signal as it is fed back from the output of a circuit, device, or system to the input and then back to the output.”
When it comes mobile operating systems like iOS or Android, the user is the signal.
There is a very real danger that Apple, Google and Samsung will include their new smartwatches in their own proprietary loops. For instance, you won’t get the full benefits of an iWatch without using an iPhone, a Google Watch will be suboptimal unless your have a Nexus smartphone or a Samsung Watch will require a Galaxy to access all its features.
The Ideal Smartwatch
But the ideal smartwatch would not need a smartphone to work. It would have its own data connection, touch-screen interface, sensors to track location and (hopefully) sensors to monitor heart rate and other biometric functions. It would have Bluetooth if you want to connect it to wireless headphones or, yes, a smartphone. It would also have enough battery life to last at least a full day.
I want to be able to ride my bicycle 60 miles on a Saturday morning, for example, and have my smartwatch track my speed, location and heart rate. It should be able to stream or store music and send it to headphones. It should do all of these things by itself – without requiring help from another device. If I am on my bike in the middle of nowhere, I do not want to be toting my phone too.
The only “real” smartwatch on the market right now is the Pebble – born from a Kickstarter project. It can do many of the tasks listed above, but it needs to be paired with a smartphone for a data connection. At least the Pebble can attach to either an iPhone or an Android.
Closing The Loop
Apple could be planning to make a smartwatch without a data connection, requiring an iPhone full functionality. Substitute Nexus or Galaxy for iPhone and yous ee the problem. Buyers should not be forced towards a specific smartphone to use a given smartwatch. It should just work.
The vendors, though, want to use smartwatches to sell more smartphones. That’s OK – up to a point. I don’t mind the ability to enhance my smartwatch by using a specific brand of smartphone. I just don’t want it to be a requirement.
It’s no doubt very tempting for smartwatch vendors to “close the loop” on consumers. But please, for the sake of smartwatch buyers – and ultimately the smartwatch market itself – don’t do it!
Top image courtesy Shutterstock.
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You may have heard of my 30 day challenges, where I try something new for 30 days. Those challenges are great to try out a new habit and see how you like it.
But I’m also a big believer in picking out really big goals too. In 2010 I trained for a few months so I could climb Kilimanjaro, for example. For 2011, I went skydiving and ran my first marathon in San Francisco. 2012 ended up being a blur: lots of work, plus trips and time with family. I still managed to run a couple more marathons and finish a Tough Mudder race back in Kentucky.
Which brings me to my big goal for 2013. On April 6th, 2013, I’m going to try to run 50 miles for the American River 50. It’s an ultramarathon from Sacramento to Auburn with flat ground for the first half and single-track dirt trails on the second half. The cutoff limit for finishing is 13 hours. As a running friend put it, “You really just need to make the 32 mile cutoff in 7.5 hours or so; after that you could walk the rest of the way!”
In theory, if you run the American River 50 in 11 hours then you can qualify for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. But I’ve gotten a chance to run the trail half of the course a couple times now, and I don’t think there’s any way I can finish that fast. So I’m just shooting to finish in 13 hours. By the way, if you’re interested in ultramarathons (any race longer than a marathon) or trail running, there’s a great documentary about the 2010 Western States race called Unbreakable.
So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Wish me luck, and if anyone want to suggest running music, please leave a comment pointing to a good YouTube video for running. Thanks!
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We might look back on 2013 as the year when wearable computing came in vogue. Apple is reportedly working on a smartwatch. Samsung too. The rumor mill now tells us that Google is working on the concept of a smartwatch and has been for some time.
According to a report from the Financial Times, Google filed for a patent in 2011 for a concept known as a “smart-watch.” The patent was approved last October, and Google has its Android team working on integration, according to the report.
(See also: Arm Race: Samsung To Build A Smartwatch, Too)
Google apparently gave the future of mobile technology a thorough look several years ago, and seems to have decided that wearable computing might well be the next hot area. The search giant has made waves with its Google Glasses and revealed a talking smart shoe during South By Southwest Interactive earlier this month. A smartwatch would fit perfectly into Google’s coalescing vision of wearable computing.
From the abstract to Google’s patent, here is its concept for what a smartwatch might entail.
A smart-watch can include a wristband, a base, and a flip up portion. The base can be coupled to the wristband and include a housing, a processor, a wireless transceiver, and a tactile user interface. The wireless transceiver can be configured to connect to a wireless network. The tactile user interface can be configured to provide interaction between a user and the smart-watch. The flip up portion can be displaceable between an open position exposing the base and a closed position concealing the base. Further, the flip up portion can include: a top display exposed when the flip up portion is in the closed position, and an inside display opposite the top display. The inside display can be concealed when the flip up portion is in the closed position and be exposed when the flip up portion is in the open position.
The patent description gives us a better idea on what a smartwatch might entail. It would have its own wireless connectivity (not using a smartphone’s connection, like the Pebble smartwatch does). It would have a touchscreen. It would have its own processor, likely to run the Android operating system.
The language and the “flip up portion” is a little confusing. From the pictures in the patent filing, it looks like the watch could have a flip top that could be used as an augmented reality layer, not unlike how Google employs augmented reality in Google Glass.
The race for the smartwatch is truly on. We have three great companies in Apple, Google and Samsung looking to push the bounds of mobile innovation and cross it with wearable computing. In the end, it looks like we as consumers become the winners.
Here are several of Google’s smartwatch diagrams from its patent:
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The race for dominance in wearable gadgets is on. To the surprise of no one, the same players that rule the smartphone market are trying to be the leaders of this market as well.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Samsung has been readying a smartwatch to release to market for quite some time. “We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” Samsung Mobile executive vice president Lee Young Hee told Bloomberg. “We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.”
Samsung’s disclosure to join the arm race comes about a month after we learned that Apple has a team of designers working on creating a smartwatch of its own, dubbed in rumor circles as the iWatch. Apple has already filed design patents that show off the basic outline of what the supposed iWatch might eventually look like.
Consumer Engineering: History Repeats Itself
The watch, in its most basic form, has not been thoroughly reinvented 40 years. The first digital watches came to market in the 1970s. Quartz watches, the first electronic watches, evolved at the end of the 1950s and into the 1960s. Before that, watches used mechanical movements of springs that often needed to wound on a frequent basis to function. Wristwatches came in vogue during World War I and into the 1920s. Before that, most watches were of the mechanical spring variety, attached to a chain and kept in people’s pockets.
The watch, and clock making before it, has long been seen as the pinnacle of consumer engineering. Watches need to be small and precise, packing many moving parts into a small shell that is durable and highly reliable. Among craftsmen, the meticulous nature and precision of the watchmaker was seen as High Art.
Just as watchmakers shrunk the concept of the clock into a portable timepieces, today’s gadget manufacturers are shrinking the smartphone into a piece of wearable technology that can perform similar functions. In many ways, history is repeating itself. From the grand metronome clock, to the desk clock, to the watch, timepieces evolved from big to small. In the digital era, computers morphed to PCs, PCs to laptops, laptops to smartphones and tablets and smartphones to, soon, smartwatches.
What Will A Smartwatch Be, Really?
Smartwatches will likely run on mobile operating systems like Android and iOS. Samsung’s executive did not give Bloomberg details on when it will produce the watch, what it will entail or when it will come out so at this point we know little about it other than the fact that Samsung has been working on the concept. There is no guarantee that Samsung will use Google’s Android operating system for its smartwatch either, with choices like Tizen available that theoretically could be morphed into a small form factor.
Since the kernel of these smartwatches will be mobile OS based, we can assume some basic functionalities to be morphed from the smartphone environment. That would likely include data capabilities, a browser of some sort, notifications (for the likes of messaging and emails), perhaps voice capabilities and certain apps like maps, music and exercise.
The biggest advantage of a smartwatch could come in the ability to track activities through sensors. A great advantage to a smartwatch would be to take the basic capabilities of a smartphone, add in the capability to monitor heart rate, speed and distance and shrink it down into something stylish that can be worn while running or cycling. Whereas a smartphone like an Samsung Galaxy S or an iPhone is designed to perform many functions, a smartwatch could be more focused on what it does.
This approach of basic apps plus sensors is what we see from one of the first smartwatches to hit the market, the Pebble Watch. Pebble can deliver email, SMS, Facebook, calendar, Twitter and weather updates. Pebble connects via Bluetooth to an iPhone or an Android to enable its data connection and tracking features.
The fact of the matter is that we do not yet know what Samsung and Apple have in the works, except for the fact that each company definitely do have smartwatches in the pipeline. It will be exciting to see what each company comes out with, hopefully later this year.
What is your vision for a smartwatch? Let us know in the comments.
Top image courtesy Shutterstock. Waltham watch image courtesy Wikipedia.
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How do you catch a unique rabbit? You place a carrot on the ground then shoot it with a tranquillizer dart when it gets close. Many SEO companies have conducted hundred, if not thousands, of tests, formulas, and ideas on how Google and other search engines rank websites. And even more, SEOs have written posts [...]
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In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have, and more. Google Racing In Irish Dragonboat: Source: Google+ Disqus Summer Swag:…
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With a constant parade of new ad features being rolled out by Google AdWords, the importance of ranking in the top 3 ad positions becomes more evident. Here’s some advice for advertisers who want to ensure the continue seeing optimal ad performance.
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Turn SEO Into Your Own Amazing Race
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One of the top trends in digital health is wearable body sensors. The Nike+ sensor shoe is the Usain Bolt of this market, with its flashy image and impressive results. Startup Fitbit has also gained a lot of traction, with its small clip-on device. But still in the race for gold is a dot-com veteran, BodyMedia. It’s been producing “senseware” since 1999! A recent $12 million funding round suggests that BodyMedia has plenty of legs left.
BodyMedia’s core product is an armband that has four sensors to track movement, temperature, heat and “skin response.” The data is then processed and analyzed by an online “Activity Manager” and a variety of specialist mobile apps, such as a food log. The whole set-up is called BodyMedia FIT and the company terms it an “on-body monitoring system.” Putting it simply though, BodyMedia helps users count calories and lose weight.
Live Long & Prosper (Tip: Patents Help)
When BodyMedia launched in 1999, even at that early stage of the Internet it was a product based on sensors – or “senseware” as it was termed back then. According to a 2000 Wired article: “The company will sell a line of ready-to-wear sensors that link users to a companion Web site. Think of it as Quicken for the health-conscious.”
Over the past 13 years, BodyMedia has raised a total of $49 million – including its most recent round of $12 million in May of this year. At least some of that money is being spent on a patent lawsuit against Basis, a health tracking watch that we previewed last April and is due to launch this year. BodyMedia CEO Christine Robins told MobiHealthNews that “we have spent years and millions of dollars prosecuting our patents.”
Choose Your Form Factor
Regardless of BodyMedia’s store of patents, all of its competitors have similar functionality. They all “sense” things like motion and temperature, enable the user to upload their body data to a website or mobile app, provide an app for food logging, and have social networking features. The main difference between the companies offering these products is the form of the device. BodyMedia uses an armband, Fitbit a device that clips onto your pants, Nike+ a pair of shoes, Basis a watch.
The Fitbit device seems to be the easiest to wear for long periods of time, since you can clip it onto your clothing (although be wary of accidentally putting your device through the washing machine, as this author did after just a couple of weeks of usage – and no it didn’t survive). But ultimately it’s a personal choice about which device best suits your lifestyle. Let us know your thoughts on wearable sensors in the comments.
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A winning digital strategy may loom even larger in influencing this year’s presidential campaign than it did in 2008. When it comes to searches, paid search marketing, and display advertising, President Obama is outpacing challenger Mitt Romney.
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