2004: Microsoft SPOT

You can usually count on Microsoft to enter a potentially massive market far too early, so you won't be surprised to discover that it was making smart watches nearly a decade ago. Microsoft's platform was called Smart Personal Object Technology, or SPOT for short, and it used FM broadcasts to update subscribers' data in major US cities.

Microsoft Spot

A subscription was $59 per year. SPOT watches were released from 2004 until 2008, and Microsoft shut down the SPOT-updating MSN Direct service in 2012.

2009: Samsung S9110 Watch Phone

Microsoft had the right idea and the wrong answer. The future of the smart watch was wireless, but the wireless wasn't FM: it was Bluetooth. The relentless march of smartphone tech meant that all the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together: better batteries, touch screens and low-power, short-range connections to internet-connected devices such as smartphones.

Samsung Smartwatch

By the beginning of this decade, firm after firm had seen the potential. Samsung had its S9110 Watch Phone (2009). Sony Ericsson launched its LiveView (2010) to pull data from Android phones, and Allerta's InPulse (also 2010) did the same for BlackBerries.

Motorola Actv

WIMM Labs' WIMM One (2011) shoved a modified version of Android into a watch-sized device, Motorola's Motoactv (also 2011) combined fitness information and music playback and Apple found that many of its square iPod Nanos (2011 again) ended up on people's wrists.

2012: Pebbles and fitness kit

By the end of 2012 we were up to our wrists in wearables: Nike+ Fuelbands and Jawbone Ups, the epaper-screened Pebble and the cute Cuckoo, the Sony Smartwatch and all kinds of GPS trackers and exercise monitors.


But while many of them are very good indeed, their relatively small sales suggest that nobody has quite nailed the smart watch yet. Could Samsung be about to change that?


2013: Samsung Galaxy Gear

Samsung has confirmed that its latest smartwatch will be called the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the rumour is that it can make phone calls, play video games and send emails. Samsung also promises tight integration with Android phones via a watch manager app.

Galaxy Gear

It does look as if the watch won't connect to Google Play, however, rather Samsung's own app store. Essentially, the Galaxy Gear is set to be the one device that links up the whole Galaxy family.

201?: Apple iWatch

The iWatch is the most written-about might-not-exist product of the age, helping to fuel the smart watch gold rush despite nobody having the faintest idea whether it's real or not - and if it is, what it'll do or why we should care.


Might we see the iWatch at Apple's September iPhone event? It's certainly one to, ahem, watch.