For the past couple of years we've noticed a shift in focus of dominant players in the smartphone space. As the smartphone market moves from rapid expansion to a maturing phase, the companies on top don't want to be left behind in the same way the notebook PC vendors were at the start of the smartphone/tablet race.

At the same time, continued reduction in transistor feature sizes and power consumption have enabled a new class of low power SoC. ARM's product offerings in particular extend both up and down the power curve. There's Cortex M for ultra low power devices, often perfect for wearables, and then a range of Cortex A CPUs for higher end wearables all the way up to smartphones, tablets and eventually servers. 

Initial successes in the wearables space were specialized pieces of hardware. For example, pedometers and health trackers like the Fitbits of the world. Most of these designs leverage Cortex M series CPU cores. More recently however we've seen a more serious push into the world of smart watches. Initial plays here were more disorganized in terms of hardware and OS selection, but we're beginning to see some consolidation on the heels of Google's Android Wear announcement. 

At last month's Google IO we saw the first official Android Wear devices launch from LG and Samsung. Later this summer we'll also see the arrival of the Moto 360, an arguably much more appealing Android Wear device thanks to a greater focus on design. I've spent the past couple of weeks with LG's G Watch and am still toying with the best way to present my thoughts on the device. In short it seems like a great platform if you're a developer, but honestly lacks the battery life (I measured under 9 hours of actual use, display on but dimmed on a single charge) and feature set today to really convince me as a consumer.

Last month we soft launched our new Wearables content section at AnandTech, with ARM graciously agreeing to be a launch sponsor. ARM's support will allow us to likely do some wearable giveaways in the not too distant future too.

The path to wearable computing becoming something more substantial however demands a lot of things to change. If we're talking about watches we need better battery life, the functionality needs to improve as well (although I am impressed by some of what's already been introduced for Android Wear). I'm curious to get your thoughts on the wearable space. What would it take for you to add yet another computing platform to your life? Is anyone out there waiting for the perfect smart watch? I know I stopped wearing watches nearly a decade ago, and to go back I'll likely need quite a bit of convincing in terms of a great product.

If you've got thoughts on this space, we'd love to hear them as they'll help shape our coverage going forward. Leave your comments below.

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  • jooj32 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Why is everyone just talking about watches. That's just one wearable. Wearables can be fully integrated into your clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc. They may not even have a screen and charged via solar or kinetic energy.

    As for smartwatches, I won't be buying one based on what I've seen so far.
  • Imaginer - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I mentioned glasses in my post. Regardless, my post stand on wearables.

    Must be as durable as my clothes I wear day in and out while maintaining function. And not impeding in function or comfort (re: glasses I made mention earlier) as I wear them or lasting during the extended time of wear.
  • jja16 - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    I'd wear this wearable:
  • knightspawn1138 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    My vision of a wearable worth paying for is one that takes the place of your smartphone, while still being capable of lasting about 12-16 hours on a charge. In essence, a phone that reverses the trend of 5-8" screens on the average phone/phablet. I want to see the large manufacturers invest more in flexible displays, or finally get to color low/no power e-ink designs, and really start thinking outside the box instead of just seeing how small they can make the rectangle that is your current smartphone, and putting a wrist-strap on it.

    It would be great to see a smart-watch that integrated a flexible or semi-rigid display into the watch band. The watch-face is the majority of the screen, but a flexible display that continues from the edge of the display down the band would be a great place to put ancillary information that requires less updating (and power) than the primary display.

    Or just make it look like Dick Tracy's watch, and I'll get one for my Dad. He'd love to Skype on that. :D
  • pikles - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Are you suggesting separate screens on the band? Anyway, that'd be awkward depending on which wrist you're using and where the screens are on the band. I'm waiting for holograms that'll change size based on your preferences in a few decades.

    Or maybe just flip smartphones that expands into a larger screen when unfolded. Kind of like some of the demos we've seen but better.
  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    +1 to the holograms. That would be WAY cool.
  • B3an - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Not interested. I don't want anything on my body, something like a watch or glasses just get in the way. Implants are the future.
  • Rhubarb_Custard - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I'm very skeptical about wearable displays that are too small to display much and too dim to be legible outdoors. Not to mention how unnatural it is to talk into a watch.

    My vision of wearable is a pure audio interface to a Google Now that reads out incoming messages/notifications akin to Moto Assist but also let's you dictate simple replies. This should all be possible with a Bluetooth headset or your car audio. It's less intrusive and more natural to talk into a headset. I dare say battery life would be better too.
  • dealcorn - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Targeting sustainable use models is more viable than targeting faddish, MMTB fashionistas. Parents/pet owners/equipment owners will pay for instant alarm if their child/pet/fork lift is no longer in a predefined "safe" GPS location. Any Type 1 diabetic will file a claim form to get someone else to pay for 24/7 blood glucose level monitoring with alarms and without painful pin pricks to draw blood. Can someone make a case that Cardiologists/trainers/psycho-gurus can make money reviewing the electronic records produced by their patients wearable health/karma monitors. Certainly, someone will make a buck pitching the idea that the right wearable will help be get a date with Marlena Dietrich when she was 20.
  • Sunrise089 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Thought 1: I'm not very interested in wearables. A major reason I like my phone is because I don't have to carry around a GPS, camera, game system, etc. Wearables push that integration back, and I feel like it's a bit of a forced market at the moment, and I hope AT doesn't get too caught up in the hype (as one might infer from wearables having top-tier status on the site menu equal to PC components.

    Thought 2: I REALLY don't want to read about wearables when things like the Surface Pro 3 and Devil's Canyon review take a month to be published. I understand the desire to follow page views, but I do think there's a risk of the site's core focus getting too diluted.

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