Smartwatches recall its origins in Casio
Smartwatch is by no means a new trend. It was back in the early 2000 that the industry saw the first glimpse of wristwatch that allows users to interact with its features, promising to unbind us from our desktop computers.
At the time, Casio dominated the "smartwatch" category with its trio of watches—WMP1, WPV1, and BIZX HBX-100. With such trio, early adopters gained access to features like PDA, PC connectivity, built-in camera technology, and music right on their wrists. Specifications for these devices included things like 32MB of memory for up to 30 minutes of music or a .028Mpx monochrome CMOS image sensor.
Casio's WMP1, WPV1, and BIZX HBX-100. (Source: Teardown.com)
While far from the technology seen on hips, wrists, or ears today, these were truly groundbreaking devices in the 20th century. Yet the demand and sales volumes for the devices originally priced between $150 and $350 never really materialized. It is worth noting that the watches above now sell for $200-$1,000 on eBay as collectors' items.
So, if this market kicked off over 15 years ago, why will it last now?
We believe vendors and start-ups have access to chipsets and tools to design and manufacture truly innovative devices that provide a return (and value) when used. From a social aspect, in 2013, the terms Internet of Things and Quantified Self became mainstream in the technology industry, and the products being produced under these monikers have quickly found a foothold in mainstream society. Innovation in this segment has also been boosted by Kickstarter campaigns, which provide unprecedented crowdfunding (see Pebble's story). From a technology teardown perspective, our wearable and wellness research focuses on key IoT developments in health and connectivity.
Our vantage point for these devices comes specifically from the aspect of the incorporation of technology, and a healthy mix of cutting edge and proven is required to produce dependable results at price points that will attract a potentially broad user base. With that in mind, we compared four teardowns we've done over the past year in a longer version of this blog on Teardown.com.
This blog discloses some of the key technology design wins and technologies we have documented in our wearable teardowns of four leading smartwatches. These include the Basis Science (now part of Intel) Carbon Steel Ed. B1, Pebble's PebbleWatch, Qualcomm's Toq, and the Samsung Galaxy Gear. It is interesting to note that all four smartwatches use the STMicroelectronics ARM 32bit Cortex microcontroller and have standardised on a lithium polymer battery module.
This chart compares the four devices with the STMicrodevices M3 or M4 MCU in terms of frequency, built-in Flash, built-in SRAM, package pin count, cost of IC, model MCU, and package size.
At Teardown.com, we see a bright future for wearables. In our research and discussions with technology research firms and the analyst community, there is consensus that the value these devices bring to our connected lifestyles is unmistakable. Moreover, the benefits of monitoring our personal data in a real-time way to improve our lifestyle, health, and relationships provide real value to the user—something an app just can't do as easily.
- Joel Martin
Senior VP & GM, Teardown.com
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