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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 4, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Watch out: Samsung Gear begins smartwatch 2.0 rush

Several Seattle area software companies have apps on the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch that debuted today, joining the wave of new “smart” watches that run apps and sync with mobile phones.

gear1

Among the apps highlighted by Samsung are Glympse, a Seattle-based location sharing service, and Tripit, a travel planning app from Bellevue-based Concur.

“We are excited for the possibilities of wearable technology, as we believe we are uniquely positioned to be the signature location solution for this important new category of devices,” Brian Trussel, Glympse co-founder and chief executive, said in a release.

Samsung announced today at a conference in Berlin that its $299 Gear watch will go on sale Sept. 25. It has a 1.6-inch display, 800 megahertz processor, two microphones, a speaker and 4 gigabytes of storage. It uses Bluetooth to connect to a phone, so the watch can display messages or be used to make hands-free calls from the watch. The Gear also can record voice memos that are converted to text and stored on the phone.

Tech companies have dabbled in smart watches for years — including Microsoft and the SPOT watches it introduced in 2003 and pictured below – but shrinking hardware and improved wireless capabilities have led to a resurgence of experimentation. Demand for the gadgets has yet to be proved but gadget bloggers have pounced on the category, particularly since word surfaced that Apple was considering making a watch.

As with its Galaxy phones, Samsung has added a laundry list of capabilities to the Gear watch. It has motion sensors — so it works as a pedometer with fitness apps — and a 1.9 megapixel camera on the band for capturing and sharing photos and videos.

Galaxy Gear_003_dynamic_orange

The watch can also be used to find a phone — by activating beeping and vibrations — and to control and playback music on the phone.

This is all packed into a 74-gram watch that’s sizable but not too huge on the wrist.

Samsung said the Gear’s design “conjures images of luxury jewelry while still being understated enough to go well with any outfit.” We’ll see if shoppers agree this fall.

Samsung also unveiled the Galaxy Note 3, a new version of its jumbo phone with stylus and touch input.

The Note 3 has a 5.7-inch display, slightly smaller than the 6.3-inch Samsung Mega I reviewed on Monday, but the Note 3 is higher resolution (full 1080p) and has a more powerful processor than the Mega. It’s also going on sale Sept. 25, with the Gear offered as a companion accessory.

[1]Galaxy Gear-008-Set1 Side_Six

Apparently Microsoft’s trademark on the “partly sunny, partly cloudy” weather icon used on SPOT watches has expired. Either that or it’s letting Samsung use a nearly identical icon, to make up for any hard feelings over the Nokia deal. Here’s a circa 2003 Fossil SPOT watch.

spottttwatch

0 Comments | Topics: note 3, samsung galaxy gear, smartwatch

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