Does it actually tell the time?
September 4th could be the day we actually get to see the new Samsung Smartwatch; the company has suggested that interested parties should note that date. It would make sense, just two days before the opening of IFA in Berlin, allowing the Samsung to get in before Apple pull anything surprising from their bag of goodies, for example an i-Watch.
Speculation as to what will be included in Samsung’s Galaxy Gear (although it may just be marketed as the Samsung Gear in Europe) has been rife with talk of mini speakers and even being a stand-alone smartphone. The latter is unlikely, and would not necessarily be wanted by the market anyway, but connectivity between phone and watch is almost certain, with the watch able to control many phone functions and apps via a Bluetooth LE link.
Running on Android 4.1 and incorporating a mini camera seem pretty certain as is the size of the screen at 2.5 inches compared to, say, Sony’s 1.6 inch offer. That screen size suggests either a pretty chunky watch or, as speculated by many, a curved body to wrap round the wrist; that could be a design feature to make Apple jealous but how they would deal with visual distortion, especially with games, could be an issue.
What is really good news is that it will be shipped with full NFC capability, as the Sony and others coming to the market are. Again this will put pressure on Apple to rethink their NFC strategy or they might get seriously left behind. Canalys, the market analysts, are predicting that the smart watch sales will go from around 330,000 in 2012 to nearer 5,000,000 in 2014. That’s market growth that no-one will want to be left out of.
For NFC this will be a massive push. As a technology to interact with life, NFC has been dependent on consumers buying a smart phone with the technology included. Smart watches could potentially give millions of users without NFC enabled phones access to the simplicity and incredible functionality of NFC.
If that happens the demand for NFC tags should similarly explode and NFC Direct are ready and waiting to give advice to companies and organisations who want to know how this technology can dramatically improve business performance and customer satisfaction. Few people now doubt that NFC will be the dominant way that users will interface between their real and their virtual worlds, especially when they are on the move; it is just too simple, too secure, too expandable, and too tried and tested now to not be a part of the digital landscape for many years to come.
The launch of the Samsung Galaxy Gear will energise the smart phone market as well as that for other smart watches. How long, perhaps, before they are packaged together and sold as a unit? Or perhaps the smart watch takes on the smart phone role and smart glasses or lenses take over the screen role.
Whatever the future holds for the hardware, it is all good news for NFC and our money’s on Apple following Samsung onto the path of NFC righteousness.