An Era Of Smart Watches Is On The Horizon

It seems like the entire world flipped out after Apple’s September 9 media event, where the upcoming Apple Watch product line was debuted. However, the watch itself isn’t due out until early 2015. Just about a week prior, Motorola launched its Moto 360, a line of smart watches that run on an Android platform. While the past few years have been the era of the smartphone and tablet, it looks like we’re entering a new era that highlights smart wearables.

Timekeeping is the primary concern for most people who interact with a gadget on their wrist. A way to tell the time has been notably absent from fitness wearables like the Fitbit and Jawbone Up24. If you give a Fitbit Flex a little tap, all the LED display shows is your current progress toward your step goals. And the Up24 doesn’t have a display at all. So it’s no surprise that Apple focused heavily on the timekeeping element of their smart watch, which can be customized with 11 different watch faces, according to Apple’s official press release. Users can don an old-school analog timepiece design, or they can get futuristic with a zoomable model of the solar system. The newly released Moto 360 takes a different approach to timekeeping, displaying digits on a circular watch face, rather than Apple’s square one. These can also be personalized with Android Wear designs.

Health tracking continues to be a focal point in the smart watch industry. The Moto 360 records steps taken and monitors your heart rate. Its main draw seems to be the partnership with third party apps, such as Runkeeper. The built-in health features seem pretty sparse in comparison to Apple’s Health and Workout app metrics, which measures the wearer’s standing, moving, and exercise time to discourage sedentary lifestyles. Additionally, the Apple watch also measures your heart rate and stores goals, reminders, and achievements.

Finally, current smart watches companies are exploring durability techniques. After all, you’ll be attached to this gadget more than your smartphone, presumably. The circular screen on the Moto 360 is made out of Gorilla Glass 3, which is touted by its manufacturer as resistant to deep scratches. When it comes to the Apple Watch, that square retina screen is strengthened with sapphire, while the Sports line is reinforced with something called Ion-X glass.

These high-end timepieces provide us with intimate ways to track our fitness levels and interface with our mobile apps. The buzz surrounding smart watches isn’t likely to fade soon. It will be interesting to see how these wearables serve to compliment mobile device usage.