While technically the first smart watch was developed in 1982 (Pulsar NL C01), they really did not enter the collective consciousness until 2013, when wearable technology really started to go mainstream. Life monitors, workout assistants, Google Glass, and other devices that offered real feedback on the things you do daily by pairing with your smartphone became very popular to cover and talk about. Ridiculous or practical? That was the most commonly asked question. Meanwhile, sources of funding became more direct for developers; Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other similar sites offered those with an idea the ability to bring their dream to life. The result has been a rapidly growing smart watch market. Nearly every technology manufacturer has released some kind of product to the market, with new players entering the fray every single day.
Naturally, with all this selection, finding the perfect one for your lifestyle can be quite the task. Nearly all smart watches require a smartphone to be useful, so that would be a good start. Secondly, you need to determine if a second screen is something you need. Whether you want it as a fitness tracker, to be able to get your messages without pulling out your phone, or just want some insight into your day-to-day activities, a smart watch can be a great addition to a mobile lifestyle.(Check out our gallery of smart watches here.)
Most of the major smart watchmakers are building their smart watches to look like a small smart phone. Usually in the range of a 1.5-inch screen, these smart watches are only currently available for the Android operating system. They usually offer just the basics in terms of what you can click on, including messaging, email, the time and some other basic functionality. Each one comes with its own advantages and disadvantages over the others, and for iOS users, Apple is rumoured to be launching their own smart watch (iWatch) this fall.
Alternatively, if you are looking for something a little bit more sophisticated and classy, some of the newer smart watch developers (and even one of the major players) have been creating some truly incredible looking watches. In fact, this kind of smart watch is probably much more desirable than the screen-based one for a couple reasons. Primarily, this style is quite fashionable. Most people currently wear watches as an accessory to their clothing – a conversation piece. Several of these smart watch companies came about from successful Kickstarter campaigns and really put the user above profits, so you know you are getting a quality product. A prime example, the Pebble Smart Watch, has been almost unanimously declared the best smart watch on the market right now, combining features with style.
There are plenty of other options that are heading down the pipeline in the coming weeks and months, and likely over the coming years as well.
Do you own a smart watch? Are you contemplating buying one? What do you love/hate about them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.