The latest wave of the attempted smart watch revolution was Webcast on Wednesday.
This story first appeared in the June 26, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
David Singleton, the unassuming engineering director at Google, wore the standard-issue Silicon Valley hoodie as he preached the virtues of the Android Wear operating system at the company’s developers conference, which was beamed around the world.
Smart watches from Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics were set to be available for preorder at Google’s Play store following the conference.
“It’s finally possible to make a powerful computer small enough to wear comfortably on your body all day long,” Singleton said. “People will be wearing these small, powerful devices, so style is important.”
The operating system supports both round and square watches, which also have the ability to detect where you are and feed you information on the go — in some cases as intimate and detailed as current heart rate.
“People check their Android phones on average 125 times everyday and that’s why we’re designing Android Wear to quickly show you relevant information and make sure you never miss an important message,” Singleton said.
He showed how the watch, which can be paired to a phone, can update wearers on incoming texts and phone calls, take voice commands for calendar updates, give directions, call a car, deliver recipes and access social media. For instance, with the help of an app, the watch can alert users when they stray near a place where one of the people they follow have pinned on Pinterest.
The effort by Google is an important step for the wearable category, which is expected to come to the fore even more this year with a competing smart watch from Apple.
While the full potential of the category is not clear — expert opinion ranges from complete game-changing, multibillion-dollar blockbuster to ho-hum technical novelty — it has captured the attention of powerhouse companies with plenty to spend. It’s a category that also feeds into growing popularity of mobile.
Cisco’s state of the Internet report recently said mobile devices would make up 57 percent of all Internet traffic by 2018, up from 33 percent last year.
The smart watch is much more than a watch; it’s a venue for myriad other technologies and uses, many of which have yet to be invented.
“We’ve shown you what Android Wear can do out of the box,” Singleton said, noting third-party developers will layer functionality on top of that.