Rating: It will have to use Bluetooth 4.0 to succeed
There have been so many stories speculating about a ‘forthcoming’ smart watch from Apple, that you would have thought that the iconic device manufacturer had actually announced the iWatch. Which it hasn’t, of course. However, the idea is by no means new and ironically Apple’s arch rival – Microsoft dabbled in smart watches as long ago as 1995. Does anybody else remember the Timex DataLink watch? here at GoMo Towers we still have two examples and were always big fans. Where Microsoft went horribly wrong was with its SPOT ( Smart Personal Objects Technology) watch. This utilised unused parts of the FM spectrum to receive information such as the weather. The big mistake here was that a SPOT watch couldn’t be used worldwide. If an iWatch is to succeed it must have global appeal.
There was nothing actually wrong with the concept behind the earlier Timex DataLink watches. They were able to store and display personal data such as calendar events and phone numbers.
Users had to store the information in Microsoft’s Outlook application but that wasn’t really a disadvantage.
The problem was the communications link. It either used infra-red or pattern recognition (from flashing images on a PC screen). Neither worked well.
So for an iWatch to succeed it will have to use an established, reliable data communications method.
That would have to be Wi-fi or Bluetooth. Cellular really isn’t an option.
There have been multiple attempts to market cellular watches and they all came to nothing because, we suspect, there were serious problems with battery life.
Samsung famously showed off a wristwatch phone at a CeBit, Hanover show but that never made it out of Korea as far as we know. LG also announced a wristwatch phone back in 2009.
However, the M300 from SMS developments claimed to be the world’s first GSM mobile phone wristwatch back in 2006 and supposedly went on sale in Australia but we never saw one.
Now Wi-fi would appear to be a great way of linking a ‘smart’ wristwatch to another cellular enabled device such as an iPhone or an iPad, of course. But, again, we think there will be problems with power consumption.
The obvious solution is Bluetooth. But not ordinary Bluetooth. Low power Bluetooth. And guess what? Somebody’s already launched such a device. It’s being made available by Hong Kong-headquartered Dayton Industrial. [Read more about it here.]
The device is being called Portable Control Display Device (PCDD) but in reality it is really a smartwatch.
Even with Bluetooth version 4.0/Bluetooth Smart, the manufacturer is claiming only two days (43 hours) of operating life from a built-in 3.7V lithium-polymer USB or mains rechargeable battery.
The good news, however, is that the PCDD is capable of controlling apps which you have downloaded onto your cellular phone or tablet.
Even betterTimex, news is that Apple (for a change) is supporting the right standard and Bluetooth version 4.0 is in iPhones from the iPhone 4S onwards.
So an iWatch is entirely feasible but Apple will have to get such a product exactly right. Just as it did with MP3 players when it introduced the iPod, of course.