Google is preparing to enter the wearing smartwatch fray, according to reports in the Financial Times, and could be developing a product to compete with the rumoured, but far-from confirmed, Apple iWatch.
The report says that Google's Android unit is spearheading the project, making it separate from the Google Glass development team. There are no specifics on how Google imagines a watch-like smart device, but hopefully it will be more than just a mini Android iPod on a wristband.
I don't want a miniaturised smartphone on my wrist. Mobile phones destroyed my desire to wear a watch nearly a decade ago and I can't imagine this reversing now.
But there is one smartwatch concept which I would happily join the queue for. This watch would tell me the time when I looked at it, but it would also house a powerful processor and be capable of screen-sharing with portable displays. These screens would essentially be dumb terminals: just displays and batteries, with optional keyboard or stylus input depending on the design.
You wouldn't be tied to owning the screen either. You could connect your smartwatch to a friend's tablet and have your content rather theirs on the bigger screen, borrow a laptop at the library or a coffee shop, and students could share from a pool of monitors in classrooms, using their watches to carry personalised data. Your watch could customise the settings on a TV in the lounge room and the GPS in the car.
Smart watch for dumb screens
This may sound like science fiction, but all signs are pointing to the convergence of the devices we have now - phones, tablets, laptops - into a single computer. BlackBerry's CEO spoke at great length about his company's vision of mobile computing recently, and it revolves around owning a single source of processing power. The commonly held idea is that this device is probably phone-sized, but I think it could be smaller - wearably small.
What I don't want to do is faff about with the watch itself. I always hated mucking around with the tiny buttons on digital watches, trying to set the alarm with the four pins at my disposal. Having a 2-inch touchscreen wouldn't make things much better. But if I could pair the watch with a tablet screen and change its settings (or write an email, or play a 3D game) without touching the watch, then we have something I'd be interested in.
I know there are dozens of obstacles between my dream and reality. I would want a watch with the same capabilities as most modern smartphones and the designers of today's phones have enough trouble making them a milimeter slimmer each year. Getting down to a quarter of this size might be too much to ask.
But if the alternative is a watch with one-quarter of the functionality of a smartphone, you can count me out.
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