back to article Samsung: We're doing smart watches too

It's Cupertino's turn to capture a flag planted by Samsung: while Apple has been content to allow leaks to fuel rumours about its “smart watch” plans, its Korean nemesis/rival/copycat has gone public with its project. In a discussion that will probably warm the hearts of patent lawyers worldwide, Samsung's Lee Young Hee, …

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Meh

I would rather wear a proper watch than have some digital anomaly on my wrist.

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Anonymous Coward

Google Glasses, Apple Watch and Samsung Ankle Bracelet.

What the fcuk is fashion coming to?

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Apple are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

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Me too, I have a TimeX

Given to me by my grandfather. It's self winding, and keeps time just fine, after 30 yrs. The people (hiptsers) who comment on it usually ask where they can get one.

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Re: Me too, I have a TimeX

Technology has moved on rather. The best mechanical watches are accurate to a few seconds per day. Your TimeX would be doing well to be inside of half a minute per day. I have a Citizen that's about 5 years old. Its got a hybrid analog/digital face, is powered by sunlight, is accurate to within 5 seconds per month and automatically resets its self overnight using the radio atomic time signal (so those 5 seconds only apply if it can't pick up the radio signal).

Lets wait until these products are released and we can see what they can or can't do before we condemn them.

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Anonymous Coward

Lithium ion battery

Will it have a venting mechanism?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lithium ion battery

Real Dick Tracy - it will fire the thermally disassembling battery in the direction of your choice.

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Anonymous Coward

What the fcuk is fashion coming to?

yea, we should totally go back to shell-suits and parachute pants.

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Meh

Rolex?

Bah. Rolex is just a decent watch dressed up in fancy clothes: You are paying for the bracelet and case. A Patek Phillipe on the other hand is a real work of art.

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Re: Rolex?

Quite agree. Also - there's these stupidly expensive collections of cogs and things that tell when it's high water on the Koi pond, when the Shitsu is in heat , and when she's coming round the mountain (when she comes, that is). - that they advertise in the glossy mags. Some are so complicated you need a manual just to be able to tell the time. (And the weigh several kilos too!)

Give me my Swatch Skin any day (the one with the see-though case so I can watch all it's innards doing nothing).

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Holmes

Re: Rolex?

Watch. A thing to tell the time. No more, no less.

Swatch or Skagen - what I wear on a day-to-day basis. I like thin discreet watches, not great hulking lumps of metal. One day I might get around to buying a Breguet - perhaps a 5157 - if only for the history and the engineering.

Meanwhile, the hipsters who threw away their watches 'because you always have a phone with the time visible' are new gluing their phones to their wrists? I despair...

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Re: Rolex?

Just a thought: As our population ages, more medical devices will be worn- either transmitting data to doctors or relatives in real-time, or logging it to provide more data points for the quack to work with.

This ageing population may be the reason why many posh watches (in the £1500+) are now often around 42mm in diameter instead of the traditional smaller faces... changes in taste might explain it, but it might also be a consequence of there being more wearers with presbyopia- especially since a posh watch has been a traditional retirement gift.

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If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

I mean, smartphones are phones only by name and a smartwatch won't be more of a watch than a smartphone is a phone. Everyone looking at the world market for watches and thinking this is the cap for a smartwatch is a bit flat.

On the other hand, I have no idea what a smartwatch is meant to do. Using it as a phone is pretty much silly and for most other things the screen will be too small. Interacting with something that is strapped to your wrist isn't really great too, especially with a small screen.

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Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

> for most other things the screen will be too small.

My phone can communicate a range of alerts and states with a single RGB LED: Blinks blue, green or white for text message, email, or phone call, blinks red for low battery. Solid colours during charging to show progress.

A similar system on a watch would allow it to masquerade as a normal analogue watch if that what the user wants.

>On the other hand, I have no idea what a smartwatch is meant to do.

What might you want it do? Personally, I'd prefer a limited range of well-implemented features to a full Dick Tracey effort. A tap on the watch face to silence my phone, for example, or a twist of the bezel to control my phone's media player.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

A watch smart enough to tell the time?

Amazing.

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Devil

Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

">On the other hand, I have no idea what a smartwatch is meant to do.

What might you want it do? "

No good asking most people what innovation they want, because we more commonly know what we want when we see it, rather than (always) being able to describe that. The art of technology innovation is being able to invent (or further refine) something that is workable, that people will want, but generally aren't crying out for. That's largely what Apple do so well (not withstanding that I don't like the company).

Personally, I'd prefer a limited range of well-implemented features to a full Dick Tracey effort.

Well, we'll see, but I wouldn't have thought there was much in that idea to justify a company as large as Apple getting involved - they would need to sell around 50 million of such devices at around $150 a piece to influence their own financial results, and having three flashing LED's and a remote control for a mobile phone in return for $150 doesn't seem a money spinner to me. Mind you if I were Apple, I'd consider letting it be know unofficially that I was developing loony products (iWatches, iSlippers, i Underpants) so that the rest of the "me too" brigade rush products to market at vast cost, only to find that my iSlippers were mere vapourware.

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Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

A real GOOD watch will go for £300-£400, anything less and the shops consider them 'fashion' watches they expect to last only a few years...

The point is, will Apple create something that will last 1-2 years, OR something to last 10-20 years like I expect the watches I buy to last?

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Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

>Well, we'll see, but I wouldn't have thought there was much in that idea to justify a company as large as Apple getting involved

This was a thread about Samsung, not Apple. I only reiterate that because they have a much larger product portfolio than Apple. Haven't Samsung made a smart watch before? Sony certainly have.

Samsung have used the 'throw it at the wall and see what sticks' approach. If they make a 'smartwatch' - or merely a 'connected [to a phone] watch' - it is conceivable that they might make a simpler model. My friend used to have a Samsung phone the size of pack of chewing gum- damned near unusable, the keypad was two tall columns - but it shows Samsung are happier to try more product variations than Apple. Maybe the people who bought into the crowd-funded Pebble watch will come to find they actually want a simpler device, and fund its development to greater adoption. Who knows?

> No good asking most people what innovation they want, because we more commonly know what we want when we see it, rather than (always) being able to describe that. The art of technology innovation is being able to invent (or further refine) something that is workable, that people will want, but generally aren't crying out for.

Those were sentiments expressed by the head of Sony Design in the '90s, and in their way are just a rephrasing of Henry Ford's "They [the people on the street] would tell me they wanted a faster horse". Nevertheless, those remarks were about focus groups and mass markets, respectively, but this is The Reg. Its readership is self selecting. The people commenting in the Reg forums even more so, hopefully because they have mulled ideas over before posting. Also, Reg Commentards may have had a few gizmos in the past, and may have some interesting input on what works and what doesn't. Some may have had experience of using or implementing technology that may overcome the technical hurdles- the chief two in this case being the power supply and user interaction.

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Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

>A real GOOD watch will go for £300-£400, anything less and the shops consider them 'fashion' watches they expect to last only a few years...

The Casio G-Shock with low power Bluetooth remote control for iPhone is to be released at around £111, and like other G shocks is designed to last upwards of ten years http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/49247/casio-g-shock-gb-6900-watch-other-colours. Other specialist functional watches - like those for hikers with barometers and altimeters etc are rarely more than £150. In fact, there seems to be a bit of gulf between things like the Seiko Kinetic at around £200, and the brand-name sapphire crystal mechanical watches at around £1500.

You do raise a good point, though- more than even a phone, a 'smart watch' will benefit from year on year improvements in electronic energy efficiency and battery improvements.

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Re: If this is a "watch" @Dave 126

"This was a thread about Samsung, not Apple. I only reiterate that because they have a much larger product portfolio than Apple. Haven't Samsung made a smart watch before? Sony certainly have."

Mmmmm. I read a mild degree of indignation into your post, so I hope I haven't caused offence. I'm very selective about causing offence, and try only to do so intentionally.

Annyywayyyy... I was mentioning Apple simply because the trail of events for this whole smartwatch business follows something of a well worn route, whereby industry rumour mill says that Fruitco is busy working on device X, so all the uninvolved OEM's suddenly start racing off after idea X. The iPad is the most recent example, with some ghastly junk being rushed out ahead of and just behind the IPad, before properly designed hardware and software arrived.

If Apple weren't sniffing around this lampost, would Samsung be cocking their leg on it? I suspect not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

"What might you want it do? Personally, I'd prefer a limited range of well-implemented features to a full Dick Tracey effort. A tap on the watch face to silence my phone, for example, or a twist of the bezel to control my phone's media player."

Hack! How old are you? You sound like a 5 year old.

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Go

Re: I have no idea what a smartwatch is meant to do

NFC belongs in a watch, not a phone. Paying for stuff by pushing your wrist against a sensor is easier than getting your wallet/phone out of your pocket. Unlike a card, it can beep/vibrate for every transaction so the money never goes out with out you knowing. The smart phone can do the rich UI (setting maximum transaction value without PIN, etc).

Other key uses include having your phone unlock automatically when it is held in your hand, and having the phone or watch alert if they become separated by more than a few feet.

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Re: If this is a "watch" @Dave 126

Hiya Ledswinger

Sorry for my clumsy post if it gave the impression of indignation... though I am wary of the mention of Apple since sometimes it can cause Reg posts to deteriorate : D

I know it does look Apple's rivals are merely responding to the Apple rumours, but I think that has more to do with how things have been reported than it has history. (And also, people who feel Apple refined/defined the MP3 player and the smartphone will of course believe Apple have a better chance than anyone else of doing the same for the 'smartwatch'... previous 'smartwatch' efforts have hardly set the world alight)

I suspect Samsung's efforts in this area, though no doubt partly inspired by the Apple rumours, are more related to their own previous efforts, Kickstarter projects such as Pebble and I'm Watch, and also emerging technology (Corning saying that flexible Gorilla glass will be available in a couple of years, battery and charging tech etc) that might make such a device a useful item and not just a toy.

Sony and Samsung have made connected watches in the past - and they are more useful in cities like Tokyo where the severe overcrowding on public transport makes pulling a phone from your pocket a chore.

All the phone makers keen to move on to a new sector, where they can steal a technological lead of their competitors... phones have become too mature to do so.

I agree with you that Apple wouldn't deign to merely create the small feature list I outlined (they need to regain the 'Wow!' factor)... but it is within the scope of Samsung, a crowd-sourced effort, or perhaps a sober and respected wristwatch maker such as Seiko.

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Re: If this is a "watch" I'd be very surprised

>Hack! How old are you? You sound like a 5 year old.

I'm genuinely confused.

I wear a sober, small faced analogue watch. It does strike that for telling the time it is superior to my phone.

Also, for setting a reminder it is superior to my phone- I just rotate the bezel to remind myself of when to take my dinner out of the oven. To do the same on my phone would require quite a few steps.

Being able to instantly silence a ringing phone is a social nicety, for those occasions we have forgotten to turn it to silent.

Many mobile phones are used as audio players, connected to a sound system away from where one might be sat... and people of all ages have used music players with remote controls for decades. I'm not sure why implementing this feature (which can be done without making a wristwatch look like naff gizmo) would mark me out as a 5 year old.

I've been arguing that a 'smartwatch' can be made to resemble a normal watch. A single RGB pixel on the watch face can tell me if that phone vibration in my pocket is a message from someone I need to get back to quickly, or not.

Yeah, my inner five year-old would like Dick Tracey video call watch... but the rest of me doesn't.

What would you like to see in a smartwatch, AC?

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...

I do hope it can make and recieve calls!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...

"I do hope it can make and recieve [sic] calls!"

If you are talking about the watch, then you really haven't thought through the ergonomics of the situation (just like too many on the Pebble forums).

Try this. Hold your cell phone on your wrist. Don't put it on speakerphone mode just yet. Turn on a small amount of noise in your area - a stereo on low, a fan, whatever. Nothing loud, just enough that you would have to talk in a normal level to somebody else in the room. Now, call a friend on your phone. Try holding the phone to your ear to hear, while keeping your phone on your wrist. See how awkward that is?

Now, turn on speakerphone mode. Think about what this would be like on a bus, having everybody listening to both sides of the conversation. Think about everybody else doing it at the same time. Then ask yourself if this is any better than just using your phone in speakerphone mode as it is.

No, the ergonomics of using a wrist mounted phone suck. Wrist mounted controls and displays are OK, but you really don't want the audio there. And if you are going to use an earpiece, why not just use a regular Bluetooth earpiece, and let the watch be just a display and control point?

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Re: ...

If the phone wrapped around your wrist so that the earpiece was on the inside of your wrist and the microphone pointed toward your mouth like the smaller bluetooth headsets it wouldn't be that awkward even if your hand would be a little high.

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Re: ...

Earphone on the inside of the wrist, microphone glued to the elbow?

Or on the thumb and little finger respectively?

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Coat

Re: ...

That reminds me of the old joke about the three golfers; the Englishman with the implanted mobile phone in his finger and thumb, the American with the videoconference facility built into his corneas, and the Japanese guy who suddenly has to run into the bushes, because he's receiving a fax.

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Anonymous Coward

re:Or on the thumb and little finger respectively?

I once saw a japanese film with that, the phones were rings, and used the hand as the mic/speaker somehow...

Very funny to see a girl grab a guys hand to borrow his phone.....

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Re: ...

@ Mr Hagood

- Indeed, the first working watch-phone was made years ago- it didn't catch on for the very reasons you outlined: Ergonomics.

@ Eddy Ito

I've seen that design in concept form over ten years ago (it was featured in 'Spoon 100', pub. Phaidon) - the strap was like those wrist snap toys - when removed from the wrist it was rigid, and placed the mike and earpiece in the correct place). Whilst it neatly answers most of the ergonomic points raised by Mr Hagood above, it was before the raise of the 4"+ screened smartphone, and I suspect that people will be happy to keep a handset in their pocket for the screen-based functionality it offers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ...

Agreed a mobile watch is a very bad idea, because not only because of poor usability, but also because your wrist and any anything close to it will be irradiated by non-ionizing, but still harmful _pulsed_ Microwave radiation; it is the pulsing which does more damage than the signal strength, but higher signal strength is likely to increase and deepen the damage.

You should not have anything close to you body what gives off _pulsed_ Microwaves for any period of time, because otherwise you will probably find cancer or other damage at that location after a decade or so of use! Any damage will be worse if the exposure continues during sleep, because the body won't have a window to repair any damage.

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Trollface

This is obvious. Anything apple is doing Samsung will get in on too.

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Anonymous Coward

Except the iWatch will look like a watch. The Samsung Galaxy Watch will look more like predator's control pad, taking up most of your lower arm.

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"This is obvious. Anything Sony were doing 2 years ago Apple and Samsung will get in on too"

Fixed that for you.

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Happy

Predator's control pad you say? I wasn't interested before - I am now!

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Samsung already did it... to a point

Samsung’s S9110 Touch Screen Watch Phone

http://www.engadget.com/2009/07/22/samsungs-s9110-touchscreen-watchphone-syncs-with-outlook-on-sa/

Just because it has not been big in the west, does not mean it was not tried in asia.....

Just like Apple were not first with a smart phone, or even first with the shape of it.. (how they got the design patents I have no idea....

Apple are not first with a smart watch, even though I am sure they will patent every little bit of it and be granted the patent by the USPTO.

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Anonymous Coward

"This is obvious. Anything apple is doing Samsung will get in on too."

Ignorant or stpuid, I can't decide.

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Anonymous Coward

>Ignorant or stpuid, I can't decide.

Aww, Obviously!... the poster used a troll icon, from which we might deduce that he was trolling. Anyway, despite his efforts, this thread has been fairly clear of Samsung / Apple name calling : D

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Joke

Wait for....

"you're wearing it wrong"!

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We'll need wireless charging.

In 2015 you get home from work. You take your mobile phone out and connect it to your charger, take off your watch and connect it to another, then your bluetooth earpiece. In a few more years you can add your eyepiece, either Google glass or one of the rivals that will doubtless spring up. The end-of-day charge is looking like quite a ritual, and in a household of four people you'll have to devote at least a shelf to the array of chargers needed to host all the devices. Wireless charging is starting then to look less like the gimicky luxury for the lazy it is now, and more like an essential feature to save the five-minute delve through the wormery trying to work out which cable leads to the end you want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We'll need wireless charging.

Hopefully, by 2015 Intel, ARM et al's efforts in lower power consumption will have borne some practical fruit, and we'll see more than a day's use before needing to charge. And maybe they can make this self charging either through movement or a solar back.

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Paris Hilton

Re: We'll need wireless charging.

Wouldn't your wrist get rather between sunlight and the back of a watch?

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Coat

Re: Wouldn't your wrist get rather between sunlight and the back of a watch?

Apple are smart. They'll make the strap reversible so you can wear it backwards for 12 hours of the day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We'll need wireless charging.

"Wouldn't your wrist get rather between sunlight and the back of a watch?"

Only if the solar cells were on the back, which seems a bad place to put them. Also, many calculators run on solar power presently, yet are never exposed to sunlight - ambient light seems adequate. If the power demand is low enough, then light powered might work.

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Re: We'll need wireless charging.

No big deal, in a few years we'll be buying beds and sofas with wireless charging built in. Surely our cars will also have some tech built in to address it and even provide a signal boost via the embedded femto-cell wireless internetwork station that will even relay a message to the auto club that our left rear tyre has gotten a little soft, is running hot and is on the verge of a blow out while we blissfully ignore the TPMS light flashing neon lime on the dashboard as we text about dinner plans on our leisurely paced commute since the car is now driving itself with the speed programmed in by the police to be 6.2 mph above the limit so they are guaranteed their ticket quota for the month and nobody really cares what we do behind the wheel and the tickets will be paid via direct deposit when the car bonks into the next "smart" parking space which is predetermined to be not less than seven blocks from our final destination. Ah, the internut of thin's, I so look forward to that day.

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Mushroom

I'm pretty sure neither of them were first to smartwatches

Sony have already released two version of their LiveView watches and even these are probably not the first smart watches out. These were only in the last 2 years.

So who's patents are they?

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Re: I'm pretty sure neither of them were first to smartwatches

You can't patent the idea of something, you can only patent an implementation of it. Apple have a patent on a type of display band that wraps its self around your wrist for example, but providing Samsung's version isn't too close to the Apple patent then nothing is stopping them.

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