ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) reports that smartphone components are being used in smartwatches in lieu of optimized smartwatch components, even when claimed otherwise. Teardowns of a number of devices found that nobody has an optimal wearable peripheral solution yet.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear and Z-watch use application processors originally targeted for smartphone/tablets and the uWatch goes a step further by using a full blown GPRS SOC, MediaTek MT6260, but only uses the integrated BT. Other watches like the Sony series and Pebble use discrete solutions. The end result is less than optimal battery life and unnecessary cost/size that get passed on to the consumer, according to the research group.
“Our findings show the chipset suppliers are playing the ‘wait and see’ game before making investments into wearable peripherals,” says Jim Mielke, ABI Research’s vice president of engineering. “Of the solutions available the oversized application processors draw too much current and cost far too much. Discrete solutions tend to be physically large and also a little higher cost than necessary. The closest match is the SOCs with embedded BT which can be both power and size efficient with the only drawback being slight cost impact. Once the market takes off expect to see a number of truly optimal solutions available.”
Rushing to market with adapted components can be both wasteful and often power inefficient, compromising the user experience of wearable devices. Short battery life is one of the main reasons wearables are often ending up unused in a drawer, adds Nick Spencer, senior practice director, ABI Research.
“Some chipset vendors are claiming to have launched new chips optimized for wearable computing devices, like smartwatches, but ABI Research has found that some of these claims are in fact misleading at best; basically just rebranding existing chipsets,” Mielke says. “Chipset vendors need to go the extra mile and create optimized chips, or they risk eroding the potential of the wearable device category.”