In March 2013, we wrote that the next level of convergence of technologies that make a smartphone, is going to come on to your wrist with ‘smart’ wristwatches. With technologies taking a larger-than-life shape today, we can today safely say it is soon going to come to make our cars, watches smarter than ever.
We today bring you how the technology world is fast changing to bring new products and services to us, especially to our wrists and cars. Apple, Google, Microsoft, LG, BMW and more companies working on smartphone, smartwatch and car technology are aiming at your wrist and car to bring the next level of innovation.
First we will cover the war that’s coming to your wrist, followed by revealing how smart car technologies are coming to your car.
The beginning in 2012
In 2012 we had a few so-called smart watches like Sony’s watch that will communicate with Sony products only, Pebble and Martian smartwatches that came as a project via Kickstart, Androidly and more such small projects that came as standalone project. They created a ‘wow’ factor but the tech industry was still waking up to this new miniaturization of technology. These watches could interact with ‘smart’phones to bring notifications and feeds to the wrist.
Soon the smartwatch ‘game’ witnessed the rolling of this technology, but it the growth was slow in 2013 and 2014. We will call it slow till the technology comes in mass scale and till we spot such devices sporting wrists of people in multiple numbers in public places.
Slow pace 2013 and 2014
By the end of 2013 Sony launched its watch that could connect to the phone and to the TV, Samsung started making its smartwatch and Google acquired a watch making company WIMM, Apple, LG and Motorola started planning (based in rumours) their debut.
Samsung released its smartwatches in 2013 and 2014. These supported Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and were able to connect to Android devices to get your notifications, calls, alerts and messages to you.
Was Apple silent? Of course not, this Cupertino Company was busy with the Ben Cook’s small startup Passif Semiconductor striking a deal for an undisclosed sum. This company specialized in low-power wireless technology and with this company in Apple’s that the company was rumoured to be working on an iWatch.
Microsoft was also ready to grab a piece of the cake. According to a report published in The Verge, the company will be developing its own range of smartwatches and it has decided that the smartwatch production should fall into the laps of its Surface team. The Xbox accessories team previously was developing a prototype that would come with a heart rate monitor, according to the report.
Google sets the roadmap for coming years
In 2013 Google acquired the smartwatch company that makes a watch based on the Android operating system. The company WIMM Labs made a watch named WIMM One in 2011 and was later acquired by Google for an undisclosed amount. The company was expected to launch its own smartwatch, but we are yet to see a Google smartwatch. We instead saw the announcement of Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch.
But Google indeed was looking beyond a single watch. The company was making a platform of software (like Android) on which other smartwatch manufacturers could base their products. It was making the Android Wear platform for smart wearables. This The free and open source OS is expected to kickstart the ‘smart’watch revolution in coming two-three years as more and more developers could now base their products on this free OS. This will also make the products cheaper.
Thanks to Android Wear, Watch will catch speed in 2014
Before the two biggies Apple and Microsoft can come up with new products, LG and Motorola had their smartwatches announced in March 2014 because Google facilitated them making one using Android Wear free OS. As soon as Motorola announced its project LG also revealed it’s smartwatch to the world. Both the companies are making their smartwatches based on Google’s platform and will announce the launch probably this week at the Google I/O.
If rumours are to be believed Samsung after launching a range of smartphone under the name Galaxy Gear, based on Tizen OS, is shifting to Android Wear OS for a new smartwatch launch in 2014.This smartwatch could support a sim card in it to bring more features.
What is interesting is the Android Wear platform, is expected to be discussed with developers at the Google I/O this week. This will set the ball rolling with the developers who will make new watchfaces, apps and will find multiple uses for these smartwatches. The free OS will inspire many to make new watches that will be low cost.
Apple is expected to launch its new product in September or October, on its annual launch event according to rumours. The watch is expected to sport a 2.5 inch display screen and is expected to bring health data on your wrists.
Microsoft is also not going to stay behind in the race. The company according to a report in Forbes is readying for a big push for wearables. The report says “items in the Store’s “App-enabled accessories” – or “appcessories” as they’re called in-house – are showing up with more frequency, which seem to signal Microsoft’s intentions to release its own smartwatch in the very near future.” Have a look at the app store here.
With the Android Wear on chart, the future path seems very easy. Developers can now start making apps, hardware manufacturers can test their products and more on the platform. It will take few months before the budget smartphone-like war also escalates in the smart wear segment too. We are hopeful that we will see a plethora of such devices in the market by the end of 2015 at cheaper price points.
How the whole attempt of making smartwatches took a ‘health conscious’ turn is difficult to explain. Most of the companies are prepping their watches and smartphones as devices that collect your health data and get that to your fingertips.
With the free Google OS for wearables, we can wish that developers make all find of new uses of the watches for us.
CARS THAT ARE SMARTER
Connected cars with road maps and sensors
Cars are going to get smarter than ever very soon. Google and Nokia has taken a two-pronged approach in this area. In January this year at the CES, Google announced the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), a consortium of automakers including Honda, Hyundai, Audi, GM to make ‘smart’ cars. Right now ‘connection between them and the other mobile technology in our lives isn't always seamless,” says OAA. The consortium is exploring technologies that will make this communication seamless.
This effort with bring seamless control and transfer of information between the car and smartphone easy. Expect the technology to be anounced today, and to come to the vehicles manufactured by companies in the consortium.
On the other hand, Google is busy making a car without steering. This year it tested a prototype of car which will drive to locations without a steering wheel. The car uses controls like camera and other sensors mounted on top and near the passenger seat. The concept of driver is ready to go with this new car, as the driver gets replaced by virtual software and anybody who sits in the car is a passenger.
The recent purchase of Skybox Imaging which would provide images for Google's online mapping service, seems another big move on the road in this direction.
Well, you can imagine Google might (or will) use the technology from Skybox for its Google driverless cars project. Driverless cars need to communicate with other smart or non-smart cars and track the presence of obstacles on the road. These also need satellite imagery to know the roads they are driving on, which the driver inside the car also needs to access. Hence, the reason somewhat seems justified.
To talk about Nokia, this company has one of the best mapping solutions of the world with the HERE maps. While the HERE maps associate with Nokia phones and tablets that are a part of Microsoft now, Nokia would also use it in its auto project. Remember Rajeev Suri announced the ‘Connected Cars’ Project this year with an investment of USD 100 million.
The fund will identify and invest in companies whose innovations will be important for a world of connected and intelligent vehicles. “The NGP fund, working closely with HERE, will seek to make investments that also support the growth of the ecosystem around HERE's mapping and location products and services”, the company said.
Microsoft has got the Windows Embedded Automotive 7 platform for car makers. This is a platform that could be used to build a development platform to innovate and create connected car solutions.” As cars evolve with Microsoft technology to enhance your driving experience, our engineers and design teams work to reduce driver distractions, helping you keep your eyes on the road," says Microsoft.
The Car-Phone Connect
Apple is not far behind in the race. The company is not investing in cars per se, but is definitely trying to improve in-car technologies (sync between cars and smartphones). Apple last year announced CarPlay in the iOS 7 and has this year fine-tuned it further in the iOS 8.
This is a new system which interacts with the iPhone when connected to the car. It brings iOS apps and runs iOS on the display on the dashboard so that you do not have to take your eyes off the road. “The idea of CarPlay is that it allows you to use all your iPhone's functionality without actually touching it. So that includes playing your music, navigating to the shops, taking phone calls, reading text messages and even watching YouTube videos," mentioned Techradar.
This technology is already here with Pioneer who is ready to bring it to existing cars. The company announced in-dash car multimedia systems to provide CarPlay, for consumers to upgrade the vehicle they already own in Summer this year.
This week Google is expected to announce it’s in-car technology rival of Apple CarPlay at the I/O event. Few car companies are already bringing connectivity apps to sync your smartphone with your car, like the BMW iPhone connectivity apps, Audi MMI connect, NissanConnect that utilizes voice recognition and Ford’s Sync applink. The trend will gradually increase.
For the time now we can safely say in coming 5 years Apple, Android and Windows will help us run our cars, our lives on our wrists. But we will have to wait for about 10 more years to see thousands of driverless cars talking to each other on roads.
What do you think is the next revolution in ‘smart’ technologies?
Image 1: Martian smartwatch
Image 2: Google driverless car during prototype testing
Image 3: Apple CarPlay demonstration at the Geneva Auto Show 2014, Renaud Roubaudi , YouTube
From wearables to cars- Android, iOS and Windows will rule the future tech