A computer-based wristwatch that provides an extension to a smartphone via Bluetooth. Emerging in 2011, by 2015 there were more than 100 models on the market. A major smartphone advantage is handling phone calls and messages without having to extract the phone from pocket or purse, although not every model supports this feature. The Gear S was the first stand-alone smartwatch to have a unique phone number and make calls entirely on its own (see Samsung Gear S).
Smartwatches often include exercise apps for managing health (see fitness tracker) and may have built-in pulse sensors for reading the wearer's heartbeat. After only a few years in the market, fitness turned out to be a major inducement for a smartwatch. Where applicable, mobile apps are enhanced to synchronize with smartwatches.
In 2015, the introduction of the Apple Watch line made quite a splash as both a fashion statement and a smartwatch with unique features (see Apple Watch).
Throughout the 2000s, a variety of smartwatches emerged that were not synchronized with a smartphone (see Microsoft Smart Watch). See Samsung Gear, notification fatigue and personal communicator.
Dick Tracy Watch (1946)
This two-way radio became synonymous with the comic-strip detective created by Chester Gould from 1931 to 1977. In 2014, the Dick Tracy watch became a reality. (Image courtesy of copyright holder Tribune Content Agency LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.)
With Kickstarter funding, Pebble watches debuted in 2013 for iOS and Android. Their low-power monochrome screens last several days on a single charge. In 2016, Pebble was acquired by Fitbit. (Images courtesy of Pebble, www.getpebble.com)
Available for iOS and Android phones, 15 models of META watches came in three case styles in 2014. Battery life is rated at one week. (Images courtesy of MetaWatch, www.meta.watch)
A Fast-Moving Industry
Within a few years, a plethora of smartphones debuted. Unfortunately, the cleverly designed i'm Watch failed to meet expectations and was discontinued in 2014. (Images courtesy of Sony Corporation, Martian Watches and i'm S.p.A.)
Make Every Watch a Smartwatch
The Chronos disc attaches to the underside of any watch 31 mm or larger. Only 3 mm thick, it provides user-selected notifications with eight vibration patterns and seven LED colors, and it also offers fitness tracking. (Image courtesy of CHRONOS WEARABLES, www.wearchronos.com)
Getting Closer All the Time
Forecasting the future smartwatch, this Hitachi mock-up was created in 2000. Except for video calls, it's here now. (Image courtesy of Hitachi America, Ltd.)