Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Samsung confirms working on a smart watch as iWatch rumors swirl

As speculation about a possible Apple smartwatch or slap wrap continues to run rampant, the Cupertino, Calif., company's biggest rival, Samsung, confirmed on Monday it is working on its own smart watch.

Samsung is not, apparently, simply responding to the recent rumors about an iWatch. Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, said during an interview in Seoul, Korea:
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.
Hee did not elaborate on what functions a Samsung smart watch would provide, what it would look like, or when it would be available for sale, but patents back up his assertion that the company has been working on the product for "so long."

As Unwired View noted, Samsung has patents spanning years covering various types of wearable phone designs.

Wearable computing has become a hot topic, what with Google's Project Glass smart glasses and rumors about smart watches from Apple, and now Samsung.

Samsung's disclosure comes after reports in February that said that Apple has a team of 100 people already working on its iWatch. Among them are such key Apple employees as Apple's senior director of engineering, James Foster, and a program manager, Achim Pantfoerder, who is credited with 13 Apple patents, including an electronic sighting compass and an ambient light sensor.

Earlier reports said that Apple hopes to launch its iWatch this year. It's said the device will run a full version of iOS, with features such as making and receiving phone calls, checking map coordinates, notifications, and health-related aspects such as a pedometer for counting steps and sensors for monitoring health-related data.

The question now becomes: which vendor will reach the market with their smart watch first. Will it be Samsung, in an attempt to lead the way? Or will the Korean giant wait for Apple to release its own device, then "copy" it. After all, Samsung's patents show it has a rich set of IP related to smart watches, but the company has not created a successful commercial product from any of them.

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