Google is currently in the process of developing Android Wear, an extension of the Android operating system into wearable technology, and has been quick to partner with leading fashion watchmaker Fossil Group as well as Motorola and LG.
According to Google’s blog, its first Android Wear offering will be in the form of watches because they are “the most familiar wearable”. Smartwatches powered by Android Wear will provide information and notifications from a wide variety of Android applications, including allowing the wearer to use voice commands for activities such as sending a text message, hailing a taxi, or making restaurant reservations, and offering remote access and control of other devices such as a phone or television.
The announcement also stated that Google is already working with several companies on the project, including consumer electronics suppliers Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; and processing chip manufacturers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm.
Jewellers to get a slice of the smartwatch pie?
Interestingly, Fossil was the only company mentioned in the initial announcement that does not have a heavy technology focus. Instead, Fossil specialises in fashion accessories, including an extensive line of men’s and women’s fashion watches and jewellery.
Commenting on the partnership, Fossil chief strategy and marketing officer Greg McKelvey said, “We believe we are uniquely positioned to develop and bring to market products for our fashion customers that marry the beauty of our designs, the promise of our brands and now the function of new technology.
“Although still very much in the formative research and development stage, we are committed to playing an active role in the push toward wearable technology and helping to shape the fusion of fashion and technology.”
Many in the jewellery industry have speculated whether or not traditional independent retailers will be able to gain access to this new product category, given that the current smartwatch market is dominated by technology giants that exclusively sell their models from their own branded stores.
The collaboration between Fossil and Google on Android Wear suggests that the scope of smartwatches may be starting to broaden beyond technology developers, and it’s possible that if this trend continues to grow, a new type of watch may soon be lining jewellery retailers’ windows.
LG and Motorola concepts released
Google said it aims to launch Android Wear later this year, and Motorola and LG are already poised to release Android-integrated watches when it does.
The two companies have revealed concept images in preliminary launch announcements for their Android Wear-powered smartwatches, the Moto 360 and the G Watch.
While the concept images released by Google feature smartwatch interface screens, Motorola highlights the fact that in addition to advanced technological features, its Moto 360 watch still offers the appearance of a traditional analogue watch.
“Moto 360’s iconic design, featuring a round face and premium materials, feels comfortable and familiar on your wrist,” Motorola said on its blog, adding that the watch will be available in a variety of styles globally, starting in the United States, later this year.
LG envisages a square design for its G Watch, and plans to introduce the prototype in the second quarter of 2014.
As Google powers ahead with development of Android Wear, its main competitor, Apple, remains silent about the rumoured iWatch.
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