The Samsung smartwatch is coming, executive confirms

March 19, 2013
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A Korean executive confirmed to Bloomberg the existence of the rumored Samsung smartwatch. The device has been in the works “for so long”, according to the exec.

A revolution is in the works, quietly brewing in the R&D labs of tech giants like Google, Apple, or Samsung. Wearable devices are poised to bring the next major paradigm shift in computing, and if Samsung has its way, they could be its “Next Big Thing”.

Samsung has long been rumored to work on a watch-like computer, with reports increasing in number in the recent months. Most notably, the Korean giant was said to be working on a smartwatch codenamed Fortius that was supposed to accompany the Galaxy S4, released last week. But seeing that Samsung unveiled S Band instead, a bracelet-like fitness accessory that monitors physical activity, I am inclined to think that the Fortius smartwatch rumors were inaccurate.

Still, that doesn’t mean a smartwatch isn’t in the works in Samsung’s expansive research facilities. The company, which spent $10 billion on R&D in 2012, surely possesses the resources and know-how required to develop a potentially category-defining device.

Bloomberg reported today that Lee Young Hee, executive vice president at Samsung, has confirmed that a smartwatch is in the works. Lee said in an interview:

“We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long […] We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.”

While the exec declined to provide more details about the device, the fact that he was willing to publicly acknowledge its existence indicates that the smartwatch program is quite advanced, with a possible launch possible in the near future. In other words, this isn’t just a concept that Samsung’s designers and engineers have been toying with. This is a product that Samsung wants to sell with its usual determination.

Samsung has a long-established reputation as a fast follower. The company is not associated with market defining products, perhaps with the exception of the Note series, which is moderately successful, but still not a mass appeal product. Rather than that, Samsung looks at what people are buying and provides its own alternatives, the best example being its hugely successful mobile business.

But with the smartwatch, Samsung is showing long-term vision. It’s likely that its smartwatch will be among the first on the market (from a large manufacturer). Competition is present – Apple is said to be working on a smartwatch, and Google can’t be too far away given the technology it incorporates in the Glass. I am not counting here Sony, whose Smartwatch is more of an accessory than a full-blown wearable computer. The same goes for devices made by startups, most notably Pebble or I’m Watch.

Are you excited for wearable computing? Personally, I think it’s the next step towards the integration of technology in the human body. Yeah, we’ll all be cyborgs in a few decades…

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