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    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    Samsung Set To Announce Smartwatch

    Samsung may be the latest company to enter the red-hot wrist-tech market. The South Korean company is planning to announce a new smartphone device that's worn on the wrist in September, according to a report from Bloomberg.

    The Android powered device will be called the Galaxy Gear and will be able to handle the smartphone basics: phone calls, Web surfing and e-mails, said the report. Samsung will announce the product at an event on September 4, just ahead of the big IFA consumer electronics show in Germany.
    Samsung declined to comment on the report when contacted.
    It would be no surprise that Samsung is investing in wearable technology, which could be the next major gadget category. The wearable tech market is expected to hit $1.5 billion in 2014, a huge leap from the $800 million it's raking in this year, according to a report by Juniper Research.

    Wrists are the most popular body part for the coming wave of wearable devices, followed by heads. The dream of a smartwatch has been around in popular culture for decades -- cartoon detective Dick Tracy had an early version of one -- but recent advances like smaller, cheaper sensors and low-power Bluetooth technology are finally making it possible to pack powerful features into tinier shells.
    There are still limitations, and the current crop of wearables are primarily satellite devices that need to pair up with a nearby smartphone to access the Web. If Samsung's Galaxy Gear is more smartphone than accessory, it could stand out from the competition.

    All the major companies are angling for a piece of the action. Apple is likely developing its own smartwatch, Microsoft is rumored to be producing a prototype smartwatch that would run Windows 8, and Acer says it will release a wearable device in 2014, though it did not specific what type.
    Sony, Pebble, I'm Watch and other manufacturers already have smartwatches on the market.
    Meanwhile, Google is working out the kinks on Google Glass, its connected headset due early next year.
    Simple wearable fitness devices like the FitBit are already extremely popular and many of their features, like monitoring heart-rate or tracking movement, will likely be included in the bigger products.

    The $150 Pebble waterproof watch has a black-and-white, e-paper screen, which can be customized with specially designed watch faces. It connects to iOS and Android smartphones over Bluetooth and vibrates to notify the wearer of incoming calls, e-mail, texts and other alerts. There are also downloadable music and sports apps.

    The Italian-made aluminum I'm Watch is one of the pricier smartwatch options at $399. It comes in seven colors and runs the Droid 2 operating system. It connects to Android smartphones using Bluetooth to get texts and e-mails, check social networks, make calls and see calendar events.

    Apple's sixth-generation iPod nano was a small, square touchscreen (it has since been replaced by the rectangular seventh-generation nano). Many fans immediately saw the potential to turn the iPod into a watch face, and companies such as Lunatik make kits that included mounts and slick straps.
     
    The MetaWatch has a retro-looking, black-and-white screen, but it can connect to the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5, in addition to Android devices. It's also a water-resistant sports watch that tracks pace and distance. The watch starts at $179 and is available with various colored bands or in black or white leather.

    The $269 Motoactv smart watch is marketed as a fitness tracker. It acts as a heart-rate monitor and pedometer, has GPS and an MP3 player. There are also a number of nonwrist mount options, including a handlebar strap, arm band and chest strap.

    Another full color touchscreen device, the $130 Sony SmartWatch, also only syncs with Android devices. When paired with a phone over Bluetooth, it can receive notifications for e-mail, texts, social networks and calendars.

    Most current smartwatches rely on smartphone pairing over Bluetooth to get data and notifications. A long-rumored 'iWatch' from Apple could take the same approach as these rivals, or put more computing power directly into the device.

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