Galaxy Gear: Samsung unveils new smartwatch

The company believes its new invention will set a new trend in wearable tech

Smartphones, with their big screens and accurate clocks, have been blamed for the failing sales of wristwatches. But on Wednesday in Berlin, Samsung announced a gadget that, it hopes, will soon be decking those currently empty wrists - a smart watch.

Modern, appealing wearable tech took a step closer to reality when Samsung announced the Galaxy Gear. And the Korean manufacturer will hope it is paving the way for a whole new category of gadget with this invention.

Nobody puts on a show quite like Samsung. A hidden orchestra played highly effective background music, giant screens showed images of new products and, suddenly, black cloths fell away to double the screen size. JK Shin, Samsung's president and CEO, revealed this highly secret product in the most sideways of fashions: when talking about another phone, the screen showed an image of the smart watch as if by accident, proving it can put text message alerts and reminders on your wrist.

So far, the buzzphrase of wearable tech has been mostly limited to gadgets that are not on widespread sale, like the Google Glass headset that is turning out to be the most Marmitey of gizmos, inspiring strong reactions even from people who have never even seen one. Or the Apple iWatch which remains nothing more than rumour at present.

Smart watches could be a more palatable bit of kit than a glasses headset. There are already smart wrist bands like the Nike+ FuelBand which monitors your every step to encourage you to get fitter, but the new breed of smart watch will do much more and will work in conjunction with your smartphone or tablet.

Since big-screen phones like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra with its gigantic 6.4 inch display can be unwieldy, a smart watch will let you see who is calling without retrieving the glass slab from your bag. In fact, Sony is already working on this and releases its second smart watch this month after the first one failed to take off. Samsung will hope for better sales with its model.

The Galaxy Gear is a watch with a 1.63-inch bright touchscreen display and slick stainless steel frame. It allows you to make and receive calls (think Dick Tracy but with a brighter watch strap – actually there are six straps to choose from). Other smart watches do not do this and Samsung sees it as a real game changer. Whether anyone really wants to make a phone call by shouting into their wrist without donning a trenchcoat and trilby is uncertain.

With the Gear, the speaker and microphone are embedded in the strap so you hold your hand to your ear to make calls – though Samsung says you can move your hand wherever you like during a call.

The Gear cannot do any of this unless you have a Samsung smartphone that links it to the mobile phone network. When it is connected it can show incoming texts and messages, or remind you of upcoming appointments. It also uses S Voice – Samsung’s voice-control app similar to Apple’s Siri – so you can set an alarm, check the weather and more using voice commands.

A camera in the strap will take a photo when you swipe the screen. And the Gear has apps which add extra functionality to make sharing photos and messages easier still. A motion sensor means you can use it as a pedometer to monitor your activity. Samsung says it will change how we interact with each other.

There is no doubt that Samsung is now one of the most innovative and influential companies in the world, in any field, showing that it can execute advanced products faster than rivals and at lower prices.

Samsung has done what Apple likes to do: taken a barely established product category and made it approachable, attractive and even desirable. But how many people really want the innovations it so effortlessly delivers remains to be seen.

Hands-on verdict

For all the gimmickry of the presentation announcement, when you get your hands on the Gear, it’s pretty persuasive. Light, sleek and highly tactile, the touchscreen is super-responsive. The camera is nimble and effective. When you’re wearing it, it suddenly makes sense: it is alluring, comfortable and enjoyable. Will it storm the barricades? Maybe. And if it does not, it is clear that wearable tech is about to become mainstream. 

The Gear will be launched on 25 September, no price has been confirmed.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory