How to build the perfect smartwatch

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Most of the features of the perfect smartwatch exist today, but not all in the same product

With 2014 shaping up to be the year of wearable computing, vendors are releasing new smartwatches at a rapid clip. In a way, we've been a long time getting here. It was in 1946 that the world saw the first smartwatch, Dick Tracy's 2-Way Wrist Radio. The comic-strip detective used his smartwatch as a mobile phone -- voice only -- until 1964, when it was upgraded to a 2-Way Wrist TV.

But before we got to real-world smartwatches, we had smartphones, and since we can already communicate like Dick Tracy using them -- through voice, text or video applications like Apple's FaceTime -- smartwatches need to do more. In other words, to succeed, a smartwatch really needs to offer different functionality than could be achieved by simply pulling your smartphone out of your pocket.

Most of the features of the perfect smartwatch exist today, but not all in the same product. Of course, it's not the sheer number of features in the device that's important; it's the scenarios you can construct around a well-designed smartwatch that matter.

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