In the last couple of days Samsung have launched their Galaxy Gear Smartwatch and Sony have launched their QX Smart Lens which attaches to smartphones. The watch duplicates a lot of phone functionality whilst the lens pairs with a phone so it doesn’t need it’s own screen.
I think the Sony device shows the way of the future. At the moment it only uses the smartphone screen, but over time it could use its processor, storage and comms. As general purpose processors get cheaper and phone to sensor connectivity gets better this will become the most efficient way of taking photos. This way you can go straight from shooting to processing in Photoshop or organising your albums in Picasa.
The Galaxy Gear and other rumoured smart watches seem to be taking a very different route. They are duplicating a lot of functionality, in order to make it more accessible. The idea is to make it easier to check alerts and simple messages, whilst reverting to the phone for more complex tasks. That’s quite cool, and I got quite excited when I first read about the Galaxy Gear and its phone companion app which automatically takes you to the email you were reading on your watch, but thinking about it some more since I just don’t think it’s that big a deal. Getting the phone out of your pocket isn’t too much of a hardship (lots of people are now choosing not to wear watches at all because they can check the time on their phones) and having a big funny looking watch on your wrist that needs recharging more than once a day is going to be too much of a pain for most people. Plus the duplication of functionality is inefficient (the Galaxy Gear will cost $299).
I’m ignoring the health tracking capabilities in this analysis, but they are available more cheaply in devices from Jawbone, Fitbit and others. I’m much more excited about pure play smartphone add-ons. The one I’m most looking forward to is an Android blood glucose monitor.