Hybrid smartwatches you actually want to wear are the next wearable boom

The next wearable buzz will be hybrid smartwatches, which fuse analogue time-keeping with behind the scenes digital smarts. 

That’s according to Sonny Vu, CTO for connected devices at Fossil Group, who outlined his vision for the future of wearables during a panel discussion at Web Summit 2016 in Lisbon. 

“There are three kinds of wearables,” Vu explained. “Tracker wearables and display smartwatches are already known, but there’s a new category with hybrid smartwatches, which have a regular analogue display but do more than just tell the time.”

This is what you crave

Vu believes these hybrid wearables will give users what they’re craving: smart tracking, notifications and more, as well as self-expression, with your favorite brands and styles set to feature.

It means manufacturers are changing the way they develop wearables, with design taking more of a front seat.

"Let’s make something people want to wear."

Sonny Vu, CTO Fossil Group

“Let’s make something people want to wear, and then put the technology into that.” Vu said. “Users want their wearables to do more stuff while also having the self-expressive capabilities.” 

We’ve already started to see hybrid smartwatches enter the market with the likes of the Withings Activite, Activite Pop and Steel HR – but their 'smarts' are still relatively limited.

The next wave will provide additional features, enhanced tracking and improved notifications, all crammed into a design that doesn't look like a mini computer strapped to your wrist – a key criticism of the early waves of smartwatches.

"On the aesthetics side it needs to be something that doesn’t stand out, or something that blends in with the clothes you’re wearing," Vu added.

"Another thing is physical comfort. If something is thick and bulky you’re almost guaranteed that people won’t wear it for more than a week."

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.