Will Google ignite the smart watch revolution with its own offering?

by: Andrew GrushJanuary 24, 2013

Google smart watch

It seems that Google is all about wearable computer technology these days. First we had Google Glass and then a patent for Smart Gloves surfaced. Now it seems very likely that the company is moving forward with a smartwatch project.

Technology moves quickly, that much is obvious. It wasn’t too long ago that smartphones barely existed and those that did were pretty much exclusively used for those in the business world. That’s why it is no surprise to hear that Google is actively working to find the next big thing.

The latest rumor regarding Google’s entry into the smartwatch world comes from Business Insider, who says their information comes from an insider that has been briefed on Google’s plans. The source claims that right now Google is simply looking at how marketable such a device might be. This means that while their might be conceptual designs and prototypes out there, Google is far from giving us a finished product at this point.

What do we know about this smart watch project so far?

Honestly, very little outside of this latest rumor. Luckily we can probably glean a little more information from an existing patent filed with the USPTO. The previously filed patent surfaced back in October of 2012 and detailed a device that used a touchscreen and augmented reality to provide a unique wearable experience.

If Google’s watch utilizes the technology in this patent, there would be a transparent screen that is hinged to the front of the device and allows you to look at various items to find information about them. Basically, it is a bit like Project Glass in watch form.

Outside of the patent, we can also draw a few conclusions based on common sense and what we’ve already seen in the emerging smart watch market. For starters, a Google Smart Watch would probably run some version of Android, though it would likely be tailored to a smaller screen and have other special apps and features geared towards a watch.

Additionally Google’s SmartWatch would likely play nicely with Android handsets and tablets while doing normal “smart watch things” like syncing notifications, using apps, viewing messages and more. Keep in mind that all of this is speculation at this point.

google smart watch

Is this a viable product from a marketing perspective?

Based on Kickstarter success for the Pebble, which raised over $10 million in funding, interest in a wearable smart watch certainly does seem to exist. Additionally many other companies are building and exploring the idea of smart watches, and there is even a rumor out there that suggests Apple might be working on a watch concept of their own.

If Google can create a device that is uniquely designed, highly affordable and can play nicely with our other computing devices through technologies like the cloud, this could potentially be a hit for the company.

There will certainly be obstacles in making such a device appealing enough to merit spending hundreds of dollars, but some folks might find that a smart watch is a lot less obtrusive than donning a pair of smart glasses. Again, others will feel that wearing glasses is the better route. If nothing else, having both a smart watch and Google Glasses on the market will give consumers more choice when it comes to picking out a wearable device that works best for their individual needs.

What do you think think, should Google actively pursue the smart watch market or do you feel that this is a niche that will have limited long-term success?

  • RarestName

    I like the idea of integrating Google Now into a watch. The only question is whether people will want to have a separate data card on their watch or not.

    • It could just tether from your phone.

      • RarestName

        I thought of that too, but people are currently fretting over smartphone battery life, so not everyone wants to tether from their phone because they want to save battery life.

        • Mike Reid

          The latest Bluetooth Low Energy tech is the answer to that.

          Software needs to catch up with the hardware here.

  • If it looks good and fits on hand I might buy one of those watches if they are gonna manufacture them

  • In conjunction with advances in flexible electronics, I think smartwatches could be very viable. Flexible electronics could allow a smartwatch evolution, similar to the effect that the introduction of touchscreens had on the smartphone.
    One very simple way that flexible tech could enhance even an “early” smartwatch such as shown in the “Google Time” pictures above would be the incorporation of a thin flexible battery into the watch strap.
    With flexible touchscreens and other advances, the sky could be the limit.

  • Peterson Silva

    Sony has a smartwatch – but it’s just too expensive, IMO (at least here in Brazil).

  • Vinnie

    I would really like to see a reasonably priced smart watch. The new Pebble watch looks really good but I’m seeing the pre-order price for it from $150-$200. Sorry but that’s just too much money for a plastic watch with a crystal that will easily scratch. Yea, the tech is great but the material quality is the problem.

  • Ryan

    I’d buy it if it looks good at a reasonable price. The problem with the smart watches on the market or about to hit the market is that they’re all pretty ugly, made of plastic or too big. Since the concept of a smart watch forces you to interact with it more, it changes the function of a watch. I wonder if this interactivity will alter the importance of design and use of the watch as a fashion accessory. For me, I think it might a bit but atm they’re still too ugly.

  • ozardofwiz

    Why would I wear a piece of plastic like that instead of my Rolex

    • Why would you make a comment like that unless it is purely to boast about having a Rolex?!?