Even though Apple Watch is well admired in the tech town, Apple certainly did not invent the smartwatch. It was neither Samsung nor Sony, who came up with the concept. The real evolution of smartwatch started way back in the year 1927 when an intelligent watch named Wristlet Route Indicator was invented. This ingenious yet fiddly device wasn’t mass-produced, as it was only used by a tiny amount of population, who could afford cars in those olden days.
The idea of Smartwatch is not new. The very first smart watch evolved during the late 19th century. However, it was in the 1940s, when people started imagining that watches had the ability to do more than just to indicate time. As time passed, the concept and technology behind watches were deeply studied and experimented.
In the 1990s, many companies jumped into this market. However, it took another two decades for them to turn it into a commercial business. To give you deeper insights into the history of smartwatches, here is a brief timeline article to unveil how technology evolved with time.
Evolution of New Design Thinking
People in olden days used analog watch designs. These had unique mechanisms (flow of water and movement of celestial bodies) to calculate time. Our modern day clocks and watches are fueled by past works of different inventors around the world. Though some have been forgotten, few are still admired for their out-of-the-box work (example, Su Song’s water clock in the year 1092).
There were many innovators and watchmakers before him, which history has forgotten, but their creations are still the base for current technologies. However, scientific community accepts Peter Henlein, as the father of modern clock. He was a clockmaker from Nuremberg, Germany, the real man behind the entire clock industry we have today.
The very first stationary watch was invented in the 15th century, followed by pocket-based watches during the 16th century. Nevertheless, adapting and minimizing the components to create wristwatches took some more centuries though.
The era of 1860’s was when wristwatches came into existence. Patek Philippe made the world’s first wristwatch in the year 1868. Technology drastically improved over time. Many were involved in making new concepts. However, in 1926, it was Rolex, who introduced the world’s first waterproof watch. It was named Oyster”. The watch industry didn’t stop here. It was just a beginning, there were consistent innovations to until this day.
When wristwatches fascinated the whole world, researchers were at a steady work to build something artistic, Watch that can do more tasks. This was when Wristlet Route Indicator, an intelligent watch was introduced in the year 1927. The concept of this watch was to diminish the work humans did with a giant map. The watch had a small map and knobs with which a driver could easily scroll.
I have a weakness for watches. I have to stop myself buying more. – Sir Thomas Jones
Though there weren’t micro LCD screens or GPS at that time, this watch could still assist you get from point A to point B. The Wristlet Route Indicator was sold for £5 at that time, which is equivalent to around £50 now (if inflation is considered). Yes, the knobs had to be turned manually, but you didn’t have to charge it every night. This is bit harder comparing with the current technologies.
This was the epoch when people began realizing that watches could actually do a lot more than just to show time. The concept of intelligent watches was also portrayed in many movies and series like Star Trek (1970s), James Bond, Inspector Gadget (1980s), Dick Tracy (1940s) and Knight Rider (1991).
After such an invention, there was no doubt that many companies had a forward thinking to build a watch that could offer more than beyond. About 40 years later, in 1972, Hamilton Watch Company introduced the world’s first digital watch. It was named Pulsar. With bright LEDs and buttons, Pulsar was priced at a whopping $2100, as it was made of 18-carat gold. Due to its jaw-dropping concept, it chucked out many conventional watch brands from business.
However, The evolution of smartwatches not began until 1980s, Intel came up with the world’s first LCD watches. Companies like Seiko, Sinclair, Breitling and Casio manufactured watches with inbuilt databases, sensors, dictionaries, gesture controls and even touch screens. During the same period, mobile phones and Internet began to emerge. The game-changing era is just begun!
With the invention of mobiles, many companies worked smart to bring up new forms of technology with watch. In 1993, AT&T patented the very first wrist phone. This paved the way for smart watch. Many companies started to research and develop something, which people never anticipated.
In 1998, Steve Mann, also known as the father of wearable computing, built the world’s first Linux-based watch. Meanwhile, IBM (the big blue) built a prototype 2 years later, which not only had inbuilt Linux but also Bluetooth, accelerometer, and a fingerprint reader. With this, the fight for making the best smart watch never stopped. In 1999, Samsung released its smartwatch too.
“As time moved, requirements changed and so were the thoughts.”
Year after year, many giant companies released their smartwatches. As time moved, requirements changed and so were the thoughts. The idea now was to create something innovative. Earlier, smart watches were for connecting Bluetooth, showing maps and time on LCD screens but now the notion was to come up with a watch design that could connect wirelessly with cell phones, PCs, and wireless-enabled devices, with an ability to see condensed emails.
Evolution Of Smartwatches
The Market For Smartwatch Today
With many giants (Apple, Samsung, Garmin, Microsoft, Fossil, Fitbit) competing to rule the market, it was Pebble, who broke the Kickstarter records in the year 2012. Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble Technology managed to raise $10.2 million for the company. It sold 70,000 smart watches just in a month. This made Pebble (almost a forgotten technology) to come into limelight.
Later in 2014, the search engine giant Google announced “Android Wear”, an OS exclusively designed for smartwatches and wearables. The operating system was initially launched with LG G and Moto 360 Watch.
What it leads to?
Since big companies like Samsung, Apple, Pebble, LG, Google and Motorola are investing millions of dollars into this industry, it is confirmed that the smart watch and wearable industry is going to be really huge. Though it may not have a big customer base like that of mobile phones, people are buying them.
So, what do you feel about the future technology of smart watches? Share with us in the comments section.
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