Your smartwatch probably uses a smartphone or a tablet processor
The result is inefficient battery use and higher cost, ABI says
Computerworld - ABI Research teardowns of more than a dozen smartwatches now on the market reveal that some models use processors originally designed for smartphones or tablets while none have specially-developed processors for smartwatches.
The end result is less-than-optimal battery life and larger processors that cost consumers far more than they should, ABI said. Some smartwatches on the market can cost upwards of $300 and battery power has been so poor that owners are not using them.
The reason for using oversized or older, adapted processors is that smartwatch makers are not sure whether the young smartwatch market will take off. If it does, ABI expects more optimal chips to be developed and manufactured at lower costs, with lower drain on batteries.
"No one that we've seen has put together an optimized smartwatch chipset," said Jim Mielke, vice president of engineering at ABI. "Some of the processors are decent, but not optimized. They are waiting to see if the market takes off."
Mielke said it is common for manufacturers to use older processors for newer devices. "It happens all the time in new markets since everyone wants to get in and will rebrand the chips -- so it's not uncommon," he said.
Mielke said he is still waiting to evaluate some of the latest smartwatches such as the Moto 360 and the Samsung Gear 2. But ABI found that the original Samsung Gear used a smartphone processor, while the Z-watch from Smart Q actually uses a tablet chip that was re-released and rebranded for the smartwatch.
The uWatch made by UWatch incorporates the complete GPRS SoC (System on a Chip) known as the MediaTek MT6260, but it only takes advantage of the BlueTooth functionality, ABI said.
In some cases, smartwatches such as those by Sony and the Pebble use what Mielke called "discreet" processors. They are still physically large in size and somewhat higher in cost than necessary, and not truly optimized.
Mielke warned that some of the claims by manufacturers that they have launched new chips optimized for wearable computing are "misleading at best...."
It isn't clear how big the smartwatch market needs to be before better chip designs emerge, but not doing so could also thwart market opportunities, ABI said.
"Rushing to market with adapted components can be both wasteful and often power inefficient, compromising the user experience of wearable devices," added Nick Spencer, an ABI analyst, in a statement. "Short battery life is one of the main reasons that wearables are often ending up unused in a drawer."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
- Stanford surgical students set sights on Google Glass
- Does the connected workforce breach employee privacy?
- Lenovo shows smart glasses prototype as it seeks hardware partners
- Google moves closer to selling smart contacts
- Standalone wearables coming this year, AT&T exec says
- Smartwatches at work: Boon or bane for IT?
- Could robots walk on stage at Google I/O?
- Computex highlights competition, not innovation, in wearables
- Get ready for the summer of smartwatches
- Wearable hype may wear off by 2016
Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- The Growing Demand for Rich Media This white paper discusses how IBM Customer Experience Suite Rich Media Edition can automate rich media workflows, from collaborating with creative agencies and...
- Intelligent Imaging for Improved Banking Performance and Profitability A new generation of "Intelligent Imaging" solutions has emerged that is helping banks remove the burden of paper in legacy processes, like loan...
- Shifting Gears: The Value of Customer-Driven Quality in Manufacturing In today's competitive manufacturing market, the customer must be the center of the quality universe. This paper details how manufacturers can improve customer...
- Is SQL Server AlwaysOn really as powerful? Tips and Tricks from the field With the introduction of AlwaysOn, Windows Clustering Services is now more critical than ever.
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!