Why smartwatches don’t have staying power

We’re all attracted by bright, shiny objects like new, sexy smartphones, tablets, watches and bracelets but without down-to-earth servers to handle, service and deliver up all the stuff they’re just … cute. The workhorse announcements by Qualcomm and Intel get overlooked too often.

Those were a nice series of bling announcements at Uplinq (Qualcomm’s bragging party), Apple’s unveilings and Intel Developer Forum (IDF).


I’m not interested in a smartwatch because:

  • I tried digital and “computer” watches years ago and retired them because I wasn’t interested in the exact time but rather how early or late I was.
  • If it just tells me who’s calling, who’s texting, why not just look at my phone (the screen is bigger)?
  • Wouldn’t watch video on it, and
  • They’re all big and ugly but my analog watch is attractive jewelry and gives me relative time.

Also not interested in using a workstation (64-bit smartphone processor) because:

  • I don’t watch movies, play games (that often) on my phone;
  • It’s a struggle to multi-task on my notebook, desktop;
  • Apps that take advantage of the power will be available … later. Doubt if Oracle will play nice with Google to let Android take advantage of their Java;
  • Phone has to have a lot more memory to take advantage of 64-bit – music, photos, video – because you can’t do everything in the cloud. Sometimes you need to be local;
  • Will that extra power eliminate dropped calls, keep email/texts flowing? … doubt it; and
  • If it makes the phone smarter, will it make the user smarter? … doubt it.

Both Qualcomm and Intel highlighted small devices and wearables and both are working toward the same objective – companies, products, individuals, things being constantly connected.

Your Internet of Things – In the not too distant future, Qualcomm sees less expensive, less obtrusive small cells that support both cellular signals and WiFi to keep your growing arsenal of things in touch with the world around you. Add their wireless charging on-the-go solution and you’ll constantly be in touch.

It will just take a couple of generations for us to accept it as normal.

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs showed his newest toy, the Toq smartwatch, which he wants someone to pick up and market with their super small, super efficient chip inside.

World of Cells

It’s all part of their bigger plan to develop wireless networks – everywhere – that have 1,000x more capacity than we have today and are built on small cells (with their chips inside).

The cells integrate cellular and WiFi and cost a fraction of today’s tall eyesore towers (think 1,000s of unobtrusive cells for less than one big tower). The network of small cells will also meet telcos’ need to monetize the dramatic increase in data throughput (streaming video, music, etc.).

Data Growth – With computing intelligence all around you and all of the great stuff you and the billions of other vocal people on the planet develop – photo, video, voice, content, it won’t be long before the average household needs 4PB of storage; and datacenters everywhere will be holding more than 40ZB of stuff (2020 target date). You’ll be streaming your entertainment to the device you happen to have with you or are driving at the time.


The network will keep your smartphone, tablet, appliances, wearables and smarthub connected and in sync (hopefully).


Cool; but Qualcomm is all about the mobile value chain so they didn’t stop there.

Jacobs talked about a more ambitious, long-range plan of action that could help the electric car industry get going.

The company is demonstrating roadway wireless charging pads that can be placed on roadways to charge the cars as the zoom past.

Think about it, no more driving like hell to get to the next outlet!

The company’s Halo system taking part in the Formula E race series (sorta’ like Formula 1 only a lot quieter) next year is taking place in London, Rome and LA. Without the ear-splitting noise, the cars can do 60mph in three seconds and reach speeds of 130mph on the streets.

After the race, the pads will stay there to promote wireless charging for your electric car or any mobile device.

The tests won’t deliver any bump in sales for the short term, but forward-looking companies have to invest in tomorrow to make it happen.

Intel Goes Mobile

At IDF, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had his formal coming out party to show the company not only hadn’t missed the mobile device market but is working on it on all fronts.

Itty-Bitty Powerhouse – Intel’s Brian Krzanich took the stage at IDF to show off the firm’s new chip solutions, including the industry’s first 14nm processor family that will power next- generation tablets, smartphones and wearables. The company has big plans for the chip that delivers fantastic performance and requires very little power.

To prove the company is determined “to lead in every segment of computing,” he showed off the new ultra-small Quark and Broadwell processors that will power tomorrow’s embedded solutions, ultrabooks, sub-$100 tablets, smartphones and wearables.

For all of these devices, they’ll let manufacturers pick their poison … Android or Windows.

iOS? That’s up to Apple.

Intel’s new president, Renee James, kept the momentum of the company’s mobile/wearable theme going by showing of a portable wearable medical patch.

Wearables – Most of the wearables being introduced are big, bulky smartwatches that do things for you. But Intel’s Renee James showed off a prototype smartpatch that monitors all of your vitals and can send them to your other smart devices for tracking/mapping your health and performance. The information can even be sent to your doctor who would see how well (or not) you’re doing on your diet/exercise program.

The patch she showed can monitor your EKG, blood pressure, other vitals and send it all to your doctor. But it could just as easily be sent to your smart device or computer to help you track your exercise and overall health.

Now that is a bridge wearable I would wear!


By 2025 or 2030, the chip will be implanted (or swallowed), everything will be monitored for you and alerts will be sent to the doctor and your always-with-you/always-on smart device. My only concerns are those damn software updates everyone sends out at the worst possible time that aren’t quite ready for primetime!

Internet of Things

Both Qualcomm and Intel are getting ready (and getting us ready) for the Internet of “things.”

Internet of Things – Everyone talks about the speed that computing has changed from mainframes to networks/PCs to mobile devices and soon billions of things. The lower-priced, more powerful processors are quickly being designed into everything to the point that most of the data sent/used will between devices, not humans. But don’t worry, it’s all good … they say.

For the past few years, IDC has been advancing the “Internet of Things” concept whereby items will be connected to the Internet to send/receive/use information. It includes M2M (machine to machine), all of your devices, your home, your car, everything.

While IDC forecasts that the market will be a staggering 80B “talking” devices by 2020, I have a feeling that number is remarkably low.

Just look at the cars of today and the ones that are being developed for tomorrow (including the driverless cars).

Thinking, Talking Parts – It’s what you don’t see today that has the potential to enable all of your devices to talk to each other and give you information on the world around you. There are thousands of parts that go into the car you drive and millions of bones in your body that today’s/tomorrow’s chips will monitor for you. The information can warn you, assist you, protect you and do almost everything except prevent you from making a fool of yourself.

Ford has said that already 60 per cent of the car’s cost is in computerization and every manufacturer is working on even more “communications.”

Cripes, Nissan wants you to buy a smartwatch with your new car so the two of you can talk more!

Planes, trains, cars, energy, the food industry, stores, clothes, your home, your healthcare system, you name it will give you (and someone) all of the information you want/need/don’t even care about!

All of that stuff is going to go to a data centre somewhere.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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