Smart watches: They arent just for geeks anymore
Smart watches: They arent just for geeks anymore The Guess Connect smartwatch is dislpayed at the Martian booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show. At left, Glide's live video messaging app runs on a prototype (AP photos)
Smart watches: They arent just for geeks anymore
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Smartwatches don't have to look ugly to be functional. Clothing and accessories designers are collaborating with engineers to produce computerized wristwatches that people will want to wear all day and night.

With Apple preparing to release a watch line that includes an 18-karat gold edition, rivals know they need to think beyond devices that look like miniature computers with their rectangular screens and wristbands made of rubber-like materials. If the watches aren't attractive, the market won't grow beyond a small niche of users.

"The big brick on the wrist is not what a fashionable person is going to wear on a day-to-day basis," says Cindy Livingston, CEO of Sequel, a Timex business that makes traditional watches under the Guess clothing brand. That's especially so for women, she says. Many of the existing smartwatches are simply too big for their wrists.

At the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Guess said it's partnering with Martian Watches to make a line of fashionable smartwatches. Guess took its leading line of traditional watches, Rigor, and incorporated Martian's technology. From a distance, the new Guess Connect watch looks like a Rigor, with analog hands and a crown, or dial, on the right. Closer inspection reveals the addition of two control buttons and a small, one-line display for notifications near 6 o'clock.

LG, meanwhile, consulted with outside design experts and a sister company that makes fashion and home-decor products. Its first smartwatch was rectangular primarily because of production constraints. A round model followed just months later.

Other companies took fashion into account from the start. Burg's Dutch founder, Hermen van den Burg, has had 20 years of work in design. The company showcased new stainless-steel models and one with Swarovski crystals, both due out in March. Van den Burg says a watch, as something you wear, is highly personal and must fit your lifestyle. Cogito filled an in-house design studio in Paris with people from the fashion industry. Last summer's Classic model has room for just 24 characters of text, so that most of the face can be devoted to making the watch a watch. A fitness tracker coming this April will have interchangeable parts to add patterns on the rim.

The Consumer Electronics Association projects that U.S. sales of wearable devices will reach 31 million this year, up 61 percent. Most will be health and fitness devices, such as step counters. Although general-purpose smartwatches are expected to reach just 11 million, or about a third of all wearable devices, that's more than quadruple what was sold in 2014.

Those seeking specialized functions might not care about design, but those looking to wear something around the clock might, says Ralph de la Vega, head of AT&T's mobile and business solutions division. Apple will "raise the bar," de la Vega adds. "Others are going to have to work hard to stay up with it."

High fashion won't come cheap. Health-tech company Withings hired traditional watch designers to make a fitness-tracking watch called Activite, pronounced Activity. It looks like a regular watch except for a second dial on the face to show progress toward that day's fitness goals. The watch can measure a lot more, but you'll need a smartphone app to view that. Activite is being manufactured at an unspecified watch factory in Switzerland, rather than in Asia, where consumer electronics are typically produced. With high-quality materials, including calf leather for the band, Activite costs $450, compared with $200 to $300 for typical smartwatches today. But even at that price, Withings sold out an undisclosed number in a day when it came out in November.

At CES, Garmin says it partnered with designer Jonathan Adler to make patterned straps for its Vivofit 2 fitness tracker, to be sold in sets of three for $40. And Sony is making a stainless steel edition of its SmartWatch 3 for $50 more, or $300.

Critical thinking challenge: What makes a smartwatch smart"?

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Assigned 36 times

  • Jake7010
    1/15/2015 - 05:24 p.m.

    Smart watches are going to be big in about 5 year. Now im happy to see that there has been so much change in the watch. It went from a box thats looks a little ugly to the nice new wear. The price is a lot cheaper then what it was at first for the old stuff. I think 5 years from now when I buy a watch it will be a smart watch

  • TrinityARainbow
    1/15/2015 - 05:37 p.m.

    I would very much want one of these watches. Though, I would not buy one do to its high price. I also wouldnt buy it because I heard that they are hard to use.

  • carsonl-Orv
    1/15/2015 - 06:23 p.m.

    I don't get why people would give up power just to look fashionable. It really doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it can do alot. I like the idea of a smartwatch. I also like how they are really cheap. I heard that the apple watch will be $300 at launch.

  • CapeleyZ-1
    1/15/2015 - 08:34 p.m.

    This article is about how Apple has planned to make smart watches fashionable. Although smart watches have already been invented they are big and bulky and only something a certain group of people are interested in owning. Because of this Apple is coming out with a new set of stylish watches including a 18k gold watch. I think that this is a very good idea because now Apple will make even more money by having a way for people who are all about fashion to make the watch part of their closet.

  • KiraWvA-4
    1/15/2015 - 09:39 p.m.

    Smartwatches are becoming the next big thing, with models from various companies including 18-karat gold and Swarovski crystals, along with fitness tracking, round faces, and smaller bodies so everyone can wear them. The watches' technology comes with a steep price, though-a deluxe fitness tracking watch sells for $450, and regulars sell for 200 to 300 dollars. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates smart watches sales will reach 11 million in 2015, four times the number in 2014. I think anything that will persuade people to actually get a watch and maybe not keep their phone in their pockets so it becomes a constant little whine of distraction is good.

  • GeovannyP-Sym
    1/16/2015 - 09:48 a.m.

    It would be cool if smart watches were to be upgraded further more. Also, the health idea would be good on the watch. My choice would be to get this watch.

  • ArturoA-Sym
    1/16/2015 - 09:49 a.m.

    What i think about the smart watch are a good idea because they would help u get fit. Also people around the country would like to buy them Lots .Also if they get upgraded to a real phone that would get more likes and stuff.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    1/16/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    I think smart watches are cool and especially for like texting and stuff. However, I don't think that they're cool for calls. Who wants to hold a watch up to their ear to make a call? We'd all end up looking like secret agents.

  • colint-Bab
    1/16/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    All the stuff they put in it obviously its not rocket science DUH the smart thing is all the technology in the watch itself basically.

  • nileys-Bab
    1/16/2015 - 02:07 p.m.

    this passage is about smart watches and how more and more people are begin to want they its like having and computer on your wrist and you can talk to people on i and some people can use it for there jobs and i think its great for people to talk to there family when there away ir have no hands to talk or hold an cell phone

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