Samsung’s Smartwatch: What We (Might) Know So Far…

Samsung Smartwatch

Speculation, rumours and tech-entrenched chatter: recent leaks of Samsung’s possible smart watch patents have triggered gadget gossip on a scale last seen in late 2009 when talk of the iPad first surfaced.

But while Apple stormed the tablet race, the only evidence to suggest it’s making any ground in the wearable-tech race is the fact they’ve registered a trademark for the iWatch in Japan in June. In fact if this month’s rumour mill is anything to go by, Samsung may just clinch the win.

Granted, Sony Smart Watches, Pebble, I’m Watch and myriad sports watches have already hit the market… But with sales of only 330,000 worldwide in 2012 none have really made a big impact. And as Samsung have made serious headway in the mobile, tablet and TV markets in the past two years, they’re possibly the safest bet on who will take smart watches to the next level, too.

Official revelations are suspected to be announced at the IFA 2013 tech mecca in Berlin on September 4, but rumours first began in March when Samsung’s executive vice president Lee Young Hee revealed to Bloomberg that Samsung have “been preparing the watch product for so long.”

Developments then occurred in June when Samsung applied for U.S trademark for the Samsung Galaxy Gear, then again in late July when Indian logistics firm Zauba listed a SM-VL700WATCH on a shipment order from South Korea to Samsung’s Bangalore office. Listed with the description of “R&D purposes” its value was marked as 24,442 Indian rupees which – thanks to Revision3’s Rumour Roundup – is approximately $410, although in mass production this price tag is likely to decrease somewhat.

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Let’s hope so. If these speculative designs are anything to go by, it looks rather desirable indeed. Based on vague patent sketches revealed on Korean tech portal Moveplayer, money saving website Vouchercodespro commissioned a ‘patent and trademark insider’ to explore what the Samsung smart watch will look like.

With its flexible OLED gorilla glass screen that curves around the wrist, and the potential to personalise it with coloured strap, these concept images are certainly striking. What’s more, they answer the one concern that’s been mooted about smart watches all along… Can a potentially cumbersome smart watch design look good on the wrists of both male and female gadget freaks?

The Philippine Star states that the U.S trademark application described the device to be “capable of providing access to the internet, sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages and keeping track of personal information”. And if the name Galaxy Gear is anything to go by (also mooted to be called Altius in the earlier Bloomberg report) the Android-based operating system will be based on the existing system used in Samsung’s successful Galaxy Note tablets.

Roll on IFA 2013 to find out how much of the speculation is can truly be verified, but one thing is for sure… Smart watches are about to explode onto the market. Tech analysts Canalys predict a 900 per cent rise in forecasted smart watch shipments in 2014 taking smart watch sales up to 5million units globally. Will Samsung take the market share? Time will tell. Expect plenty more speculation, rumours and tech-entrenched chatter in the meantime…

TomTom Launch Runner and Multisport Watches

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As previewed by Latest Gadgets in April, TomTom have finally launched their exciting Runner and Multi-Sport wrist-pieces. Boasting a GPS pedigree that’s second to none, and a tried and tested track record (literally) powering Nike’s Sportswatches, TomTom have clearly done plenty of legwork and timed their debut sole entrance into an already healthy market very well indeed.

From the basic/borderline budget models (Timex’s Marathon or Soleus’s GPS 1.0 Running Watch) to the big ticket professional sports mates (anything in Garmin’s extensive range) the running community are blessed with a bounty of wrist-bound tracking options. But whether you’re spending £50 or £300, one thing remains consistent: bulkiness.

So far the chunky size of sports watches has largely regarded as ‘par for the course’. Even by today’s standards watch technology that tracks your distance, your route, your heart rate, your speed and your calories while offering you ghost running buddies AND tells you the time simply must be on the chubby side, right?

Not any more… Both TomTom’s Runner and Multisport are 11.5mm thick, making them some of the skinniest running watches in town. And don’t worry; there are no concessions for functionality, either. In fact they’re both teaming with exciting functions for runners in all conditions outdoor and indoor as TomTom have included highly accurate sensors to allow complete indoor track mapping for treadmill running (just in case you think the treadmill’s own distance data function is fibbing!)

Other benefits shared across the two models include a distinctive, bold data display, multi-platform functionality with all running-based social media sites and, most interestingly, TomTom’s QuickGPSFix. Another bug-bear of all sportswatch users (even the really pricey ones) is waiting for the GPS to identify your location.

Sure, that time is best invested in stretching and warming up, but on a rainy day when you’re finding it hard to drum up the intestinal fortitude to get out there in the first place, waiting for your watch to find your location can be rather irksome. TomTom reckon their GLONASS technology will bid this mild running annoyance adieu.

Enjoy more than running? Then the TomTom Multi-Sport is for you. An ideal solution for any triathletes, its design lends itself to both cycling (outdoor and track) and swimming thanks to a cadence sensor, an altimeter and motion sensor. Go for the top of the range and you’ll even enable a SWOLF score that details your swimming efficiency.

Sounds great, right? Well, here’s the best bit… There’s only one button to access all of these functions. No fiddly touchscreen techniques, no multi-button combos like you’re back on Street Fighter on the SNES, TomTom have ensured a very simple way of reaching the information and data you need to enhance, record and share your sporting successes. Both weatherproof, waterproof and home to a 10 hour battery in GPS mode and sitting pretty at the middle of the market with a price tag between £149.99-£179.99, TomTom’s arrival in the sports watch world appears to be very impressive indeed.

Cookoo Smart Watch: Helping Early Adopters Stay Punctual

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Smartphones are great but why should intelligence devices stop there? The smaller and more efficient we make technology, the more things we can cram it into. I’m shocked more shoes don’t have embedded sensors. And I’ve been wanting Google Glasses (especially the camera function) since I was about 14. With Apple rumoured to be getting into the wearable tech in a big way and the Pebble smartwatch being a poster child for Kickstarter the smart money (another invention I’m waiting for) is on wearable tech being the next big gold rush. Enter the Cookoo Watch.

Launched via gadget shop Red5.co.uk, the Cookoo’s analogue clock face belies its complexity and range. It may not quite be a Dick Tracy watch-phone, but it’s definitely more futuristic than the classic Casio calculator combo.

The Cookoo Watch connects to your iPhone or iPad via Bluetooth smart or Bluetooth 4.0, and like all modern smartwatches alerts you whenever you get an incoming call or message. However there’s a lot more at work here than notification laziness (you could just look at your phone to see if you have a message. After all it’s what I do to tell the time).

The Cookoo Watch and your Android/iOS smartphone have a proximity-related relationship. If either device is too far from the other it can be set to emit a noise so you know if you’ve misplaced your watch – or more importantly if you’ve left your phone behind. There’s also an alert that goes off if your smartphone battery is low (the Cookoo is powered by a CR2032 button cell battery with a life of around a year so the inverse shouldn’t be a problem).

There are reminders, alarms, music controls and the and contains a camera with a one button trigger, so you can capture action on the move – much like Google Glasses without looking quite as dorky.

It’s not quite as stylish as my favourite feature watch at the moment – the Nike TomTom running watch, which tracks your runs, can be slapped to mark laps and has a USB strap hidden in the wrist. But it’s a close second until the iWatch is unveiled.

The Cookoo Watch is available now from Red5.co.uk, for £109.95.