Samsung announced recently its new smartwatch, called the Galaxy Gear, which will be unveiled on September 4th, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. Several gadget journals such as Gigaom and SamMobile published more details on this new mobile device yesterday after further investigation.
The Android-powered smartwatch is reportedly able to make phone calls, browse the web and display email, which would make Samsung the first major player to release a high-end mobile device of this nature, while consuming significantly less power than a smartphone. In general, Samsung has been more aggressive the last few years as a first-mover releasing new tech products ahead of its competitors like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and LG including Curved OLED TVs and 3D NAND flash microchips, which it just began producing that will likely find its way into the Galaxy Gear at some point. Low-end smartwatches have been developed previously but with limited functionality and bulky, and heavy batteries that drained rapidly, requiring frequent charging of the device.
There is an incentive to pursuing the wearable device market; namely smartwatches, which are deemed the next big thing. According to a January report by Juniper Research, the wearable device market is expected to reach $1.5 billion in 2014, which is nearly double compared to $800 million for 2013. Moreover, the CEO of TSMC, the leading microchip foundry globally, who predicted the smartphone boom nearly a decade ago, is also bullish on wearable devices and sees the need to develop a new suite of low power consumption processor chips to support this new emerging market segment.
It is likely that health and fitness monitoring will be a very synergistic user benefit based on the basic nature of wearing a smartwatch versus carrying a smartphone. Polar Electro is the leading provider of GPS and fitness-related wireless athletic watches and future smartwatches may encompass all of the features and more of their current products, possibly making their IP and product line a target for Apple, Samsung and other top competitors.
Gigaom and SamMobile reported yesterday more details concerning the product features for the Samsung Galaxy Gear from fairly credible, undisclosed sources. Several of the main features reportedly include:
1. Square, high-quality, color OLED display with 320×320 (3cm×3cm – 1.67-inch) AMOLED screen
2. 2 Megapixel camera integrated in the strap
3. Speakers in the clasp
4. Built-in near-field communication (NFC) & Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity
5. Samsung Exynos 4212 dual core 1.5GHz CPU (apps processor chip)
6. ARM Mali-400 MP4 GPU (graphics chip)
7. 1GB RAM memory
It will be interesting to see how Apple responds to the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch in the weeks following its release. If it’s a bust, Apple may decide to hold-off on an iWatch until nearly all of the bugs are worked out of it, but the pressure will be on if it’s a smash hit. Apple has already taken another hit in a recent report about the surprisingly high overall power consumption footprint associated with an iPhone.
It was stated in a new paper published this past week that an iPhone uses more electricity than a refrigerator. However, it is not the iPhone itself that consumes that much power, but the total infrastructure that supports its functionality such as data centers and mobile networks. According to Mark Mills, CEO of the Digital Power Group and author of the report titled “The Cloud Begins With Coal,” an average iPhone uses about 361 kilowatt-hours annually after assessing wireless connections, data usage and battery charging, whereas a medium-sized refrigerator with an Energy Star rating uses approximately 322 KWh per year.
This report alluded to the point that most of the power consumption of smartphones and tablets is not from charging but rather video capability. For instance, the report noted that watching an hour of video aided by the Cloud each week for an entire year requires more energy than two refrigerators running over that period. Several renowned energy analysts have scoffed at its findings and assumptions used, but the report does make some solid points that are often overlooked. The Digital Power Group report also illuminated the whole issue of climate change associated with this power drain, since coal is one of the fastest growing energy sources globally to support increased global demands. On the bright side, the devices themselves are consuming less and less power such as the transition from PCs to tablets and smartphones to smartwatches.
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