When did you last check what your watch actually does? If you are lucky enough to own the latest Apple Watch, you have a super sharp device on your arm.
The Apple Watch 5 has a constantly-on retina display that never sleeps (unless you say so). It can play songs and audiobooks, giving you instant access to thousands of apps in the App Store. With the mobile connection, you can make calls, send text messages, and stream music without your phone. The heart rate monitor and sensors provide first-rate training and the ECG (electrocardiogram) has built-in heart rate detection technology. This is only the beginning.
Although portable devices are still not suitable for everyone, we know that they become more popular as intelligence increases. According to the latest statistics from research firm Strategy Analytics, global smartwatch shipments rose 44% in the second quarter of 2019 alone, with Apple maintaining its leading position with a 46% share of the global smartwatch market.
As smartwatches gain more and more features, it's not hard to imagine a future in which we'll use our smart wearables to fulfill all the features of our smartphones. If your Apple Watch has a cellular connection these days, it's already possible to make and receive calls and send text.
This begs the question: Will advanced smartwatches make our smartphones obsolete? And if not, what will the future bring for smarter and smaller portable devices?
Where we are right now
While fitness and activity trackers focus solely on collecting health and fitness data, such as: Fitbit Charge 3 or Garmin Vivosmart 4 make smartwatches more.
Sure, many also incorporate a variety of health and fitness tracking features, but they also provide a wrist interface that lets you view notifications, check your calendar, play music, interact with apps, and in some cases even create and edit can answer calls and SMS.
Mike Feibus, Principal Analyst and President of Market Insight company FeibusTech, believes that those who are interested in health and fitness data need even more of their wearables.
"Smartwatches today are much more than just steps, which is good. However, users are still looking for more insights into their health and well-being than a flood of numbers, "he told Trustedreviews,
But those who want a wider range of features are happy with what the market currently offers.
"People who love smartwatches as smartphone enhancements are happier than ever," he said. "You can control music, read texts, monitor calls, and respond to emails. Battery life is better and platforms are more stable and user-friendly. "
We talked to Donald Zhang, vice president of international sales marketing at smartwatch company Mobvoi, the brand behind Wearables' TicWatch collection, about why users are increasingly interested in wearable tech.
"Users want to be connected everywhere and smartwatches make it possible," Zhang said. "In the past, you always had to carry your mobile phone with you, and now this is no longer a requirement."
He also told us that smartwatch buyers are becoming more diverse. Smartwatches no longer seem to be designed for early adopters, but according to Mobvoi, there are more and more older users who are interested in keeping in touch and tracking their health. There is also an increasing interest in people who work in certain professions and can not talk on the phone all day, eg. In nursing.
What do smartwatches need to replace phones?
Although smartwatches are packed with features for smartphones, there's still a long way to go before the device on your wrist can handle anything the device can hold in your hand.
One of the biggest hurdles is the battery life. Although the Apple Watch Series 5 is one of the most advanced smartwatches on the market, when used regularly on a single charge, it will only last for approximately 18 hours.
The latest statistics from the Rescue Time app suggest that we spend more than three hours and five minutes a day on our phones. So that smartwatches always give us as much time for the screen as our cell phones, we need a battery boost.
Creating ways to either upgrade smartwatches to bigger, better batteries or make charging more seamless is important for the future of portable devices. We've seen many easy-to-use, wireless charging options for the Apple Watch, such as magnetic charging stations and charging stations, but solutions that do not even require a wearable are even better.
There are many fitness trackers that run on batteries that only need to be replaced every six months. Often, however, there are disadvantages, such. The lack of a screen or limited functionality.
Another solution would be trackers that are solar powered or self-sufficient throughout the day due to heat, sweat or your own physical activity. This type of technology has not yet found its way to well-known devices, but some smaller startups have been working on technologies designed to operate with kinetic energy.
For example, the team behind Element1 was looking for crowdfunding investments a few years ago (and unfortunately never found them). There are also several research teams investigating the use of kinetic energy for smart clothing, such as the Nanogenerator of the University of South Korea, which uses textiles to generate electricity.
Switching from cell phones to wristwatches is not just about technology, it's about our behavior and habits. Battery life is important in this regard, as you may not be able to wear a portable device that you need to recharge throughout the day, can not wear it regularly or develop habits when it comes to remembering, to wear it often.
Of course, battery life is just one element to consider. Smartwatches also need better screens, more features, and enhanced connectivity to keep up with our smartphones. But there is a big problem: space.
The key challenge of smartwatches is keeping the device itself slim, handsome, and functional, while adding new internal chips, sensors, features, and advanced batteries.
Could Smart Eyewear be the future?
Instead of bringing more technology to our wrists, we may need to look around and ask, "What if the future of smartwatches does not depend on watches at all?"
Intelligent goggles with voice assistants to answer questions or answer e-mails or augmented reality (AR) features to superimpose virtual objects in the real world have been in development for some time. Do you remember when Google tried to own this room with Google Glass?
Although a single company has not yet developed common smart goggles, this could change soon. Earlier this year, Amazon announced its Echo Eyewear, a pair of smart eyewear with integrated Alexa technology. For some time there are rumors that Apple is working on its own smart glasses with integrated AR technology.
If smart glasses or smartwatches are removed, smartphones and smartwatches may not be much used in the future as our glasses handle calls, texts, internet surfing, and streaming music through a small interface in front of our eyes.
Smarter watches for a smarter life
If smartwatches are going to be widespread in the future, many believe that they need to add more value than our smartphones – not just imitating the same features.
Our wearables could become vital to our daily lives in the future if they work well with other technologies in our homes. For example, imagine your Apple Watch could collect all kinds of data about your body and your habits. This could then be fed into your smart home devices to create customized, personalized experiences.
Your smartwatch could tell your smart home through the sensors that you are showing signs of stress and that you have a meeting tomorrow about your emails. This could then be used to optimize your smart lights, get your bathroom running, and turn on the heater to put you in a better state of mind.
"We're starting to integrate Amazon Alexa and Google Home into wearables," Feibus said. Most recently, Fitbit launched the Versa 2 with Alexa integration. Not only could this offer tailor-made experiences, but it's also a great way to interact with the AI language assistants in our homes, as your smartwatch is always with you. "This is a quick way to mobilize home automation control and control in places where the smart speakers are not present," he explained.
Using AI to find out more about users is a key issue for Mobvoi. "In the future, we want to integrate our smartwatches and our AI into the smart home," says Zhang. He explains that this can be anything from the gesture control on your watch to turning on the lights in your house or talking to your watch to turn on your TV.
However, let's not forget that even if the technology is sufficient to provide better battery, functionality and smart wizards for your wrist, it does not mean that everyone can drop their phones so fast and change their habits instantly.
"It depends on how people use this technology," Zhang says. "Some people like a phone and a larger screen while others like to use a smaller dial." The Mobvoi team has found that some users even exchange their smartphones for an older, stupid phone and instead choose a smartwatch.
We may not yet know how smartwatches will evolve in the future and whether they will replace our smartphones or whether this smart functionality will be of importance to modern eyewear. However, a more useful answer may not be to promote one type of technology and eliminate another, but to give people a wider choice of devices that they want to use.
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