For the past couple of years we've noticed a shift in focus of dominant players in the smartphone space. As the smartphone market moves from rapid expansion to a maturing phase, the companies on top don't want to be left behind in the same way the notebook PC vendors were at the start of the smartphone/tablet race.

At the same time, continued reduction in transistor feature sizes and power consumption have enabled a new class of low power SoC. ARM's product offerings in particular extend both up and down the power curve. There's Cortex M for ultra low power devices, often perfect for wearables, and then a range of Cortex A CPUs for higher end wearables all the way up to smartphones, tablets and eventually servers. 

Initial successes in the wearables space were specialized pieces of hardware. For example, pedometers and health trackers like the Fitbits of the world. Most of these designs leverage Cortex M series CPU cores. More recently however we've seen a more serious push into the world of smart watches. Initial plays here were more disorganized in terms of hardware and OS selection, but we're beginning to see some consolidation on the heels of Google's Android Wear announcement. 

At last month's Google IO we saw the first official Android Wear devices launch from LG and Samsung. Later this summer we'll also see the arrival of the Moto 360, an arguably much more appealing Android Wear device thanks to a greater focus on design. I've spent the past couple of weeks with LG's G Watch and am still toying with the best way to present my thoughts on the device. In short it seems like a great platform if you're a developer, but honestly lacks the battery life (I measured under 9 hours of actual use, display on but dimmed on a single charge) and feature set today to really convince me as a consumer.

Last month we soft launched our new Wearables content section at AnandTech, with ARM graciously agreeing to be a launch sponsor. ARM's support will allow us to likely do some wearable giveaways in the not too distant future too.

The path to wearable computing becoming something more substantial however demands a lot of things to change. If we're talking about watches we need better battery life, the functionality needs to improve as well (although I am impressed by some of what's already been introduced for Android Wear). I'm curious to get your thoughts on the wearable space. What would it take for you to add yet another computing platform to your life? Is anyone out there waiting for the perfect smart watch? I know I stopped wearing watches nearly a decade ago, and to go back I'll likely need quite a bit of convincing in terms of a great product.

If you've got thoughts on this space, we'd love to hear them as they'll help shape our coverage going forward. Leave your comments below.

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  • e_sandrs - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    You'd think more companies could do something with an e-ink interface for a wearable to extend battery life, like on a Pebble? Yeah, no color, but for the purpose of "information on my wrist": time, recent text message, and maybe email preview - why do I need color? Reply
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Some e-ink displays have simple colour support. And that's all we need, really. Reply
  • e_sandrs - Monday, July 14, 2014 - link

    True - and simple things like an accent color or two would probably help allow for some additional information to be presented simply. Reply
  • mrdude - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    "What would it take for you to add yet another computing platform to your life?"

    If we're talking wearables, I don't see it happening. At this moment, adding another connected device seems completely redundant unless that device can add some sort of functionality that's otherwise impossible to achieve via a smartphone. Currently the only benefits of a smartwatch pertain to extending and connecting to the smartphone; as a standalone device, the smartwatch is just a gimmick. Sure, I can now check my messages in the kitchen with my wristwatch if the phone is in the bedroom, but is that really going to be the draw here? have some limited functionality of a smartphone when your phone is just out of reach?

    I'm personally far more interested in connecting (and interconnecting) the home and all that that entails - the lights, the TV, the fridge and the central heating/cooling. At least there we stand to benefit tremendously from saving power and personalization.
    Reply
  • icrf - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I think most people stopped wearing watches, so trying to get us to put one on again just so we don't have to pull out our phones as often is a stretch. I don't like the feel of something on my wrist or face and avoid it when I can. If the watch meant I didn't have to carry the phone, then maybe, but right now it just means yet another device to tote around.

    Something more specialized like a pedometer is more interesting. I'm not sure what other kinds of devices like that can exist, but just moving part of a smart phone to a wrist or face isn't nearly interesting enough to pay attention to it.

    All that means I don't anticipate visiting the Wearables section of Anandtech, and I hope it doesn't consume too much of your time to the detriment of other coverage. Everyone's calling it the Next Big Thing, but I'm have a hard time seeing it. They said the same thing about 3D TV.
    Reply
  • piiman - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    "I think most people stopped wearing watches,"

    What makes you think that?
    Reply
  • A5 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    This first round is interesting, but I think this is more of a thing where the Gen3 products are going to be really good. Thinner designs, better battery life, and a fleshed out app ecosystem will make them much better. Reply
  • Thracks - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Though I cannot see untold years into the future or remark with 100% certainty, it's quite unlikely that my big collection of "actual" watches will ever compete for wrist time with a smartwatch. I simply cannot envision a need in my life to augment the capabilities of my phone. Reply
  • SleepyFE - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I have only gone without a watch a year or two, then i finally got it fixed and wore it for about two years. Sadly the strap fell apart again and i just had enough. Been without one for three years now. And i miss it :(

    I can't wait to see more "experimental" designs. The screen is too small for more or less anything, yet a "smartwatch" still appeals to me.
    First thing's first. The screen has to be e-ink. It's the only way to get the battery to last. That way the screen needs power only every minute.
    As far as functionality goes i want a bluetooth connection with the phone and i want the phone to send notifications to the watch. That's it. It must NOT have a camera (the screen is too small anyway), that way people aren't afraid of "little snitch" (Robbie Williams' big brother joke).
    If you don't want tho carry a phone anymore there might be room for a sim card and you would need a bluetooth earpiece to talk.
    That's my ideal "smartwatch".
    Reply
  • SleepyFE - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I forgot to add mp3 support, microSD slot and microUSB for charging. There, now it's perfect and i don't even need a phone anymore. Reply

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