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10/29/2013
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Google Smartwatch Nears Production

Google shops manufacturers for its upcoming smartwatch, which will make heavy use of its voice-activated Google Now search feature.

8 Wearable Tech Devices To Watch
8 Wearable Tech Devices To Watch
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Google is nearly done developing its smartwatch and has started looking for manufacturers to assemble it. The hallmark features of the device will be integration with Google Now, Google's voice-activated search tool, and better battery life than today's crop of smart wearables.

Google's smartwatch will run its own Android platform, reported The Wall Street Journal, and will rely on a nearby smartphone for some features. Google Now is a personal assistant similar to Apple's Siri. It is capable of performing a wide range of tasks and can discern spoken requests quite well. According to the Journal's sources, Google's smartwatch will be able to pull calendar and email data from smartphones, among other tasks.

Google's own Motorola unit made great strides with Google Now in the Moto X handset, which was released earlier this year. Using the Moto X's Touchless Control feature, owners can make requests of Google Now without the need to unlock or wake the smartphone first. If Google is able to bring similar capabilities to its smartwatch, it will have a good advantage over the competition.

In addition to Google Now, Google is also hoping to improve power efficiency in its smartwatch. One of the chief complaints about Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is the poor battery life: it barely ekes out a single day between charges. Sony's SmartWatch 2, which just became available, has moderately better battery life; it lasts about three days between charges. The Journal's sources did not indicate what sort of battery life Google's smartwatch might offer.

[ Samsung's made a mint with Android, but it may be time to seek fortunes elsewhere. See Should Samsung Ditch Android? ]

One of the breakthroughs made by Motorola with the Touchless Control function of the Moto X pertains to power usage. The Moto X is always listening for user-issued commands. Motorola explained that if it used software to keep the microphones listening, the battery would last mere hours. Instead, the Moto X uses a dedicated processor to handle Touchless Control. If Google is able to carry this technology over to its smartwatch, that would be a big help in solving some power usage concerns.

Google's watch should be ready for production within months, claims the Journal. There's no word on what sort of lead time the device might require for production, packaging and shipping -- all of which will come before the device hits store shelves.

Google may be hoping to beat rival Apple to the wearables market, but the timing appears to be close.

Apple also is seeking manufacturers for its unannounced wearable device, according to The Korea Herald. The company has spoken to LG Display and others about securing OLED panels for the screen. "Instead of relying on one supplier for its iWatch, which will be unveiled next year, Apple will have two vendors to be safe. The key provider will be RiTDisplay and LG Display will be the second," said HMC Investment Securities' analyst Kim Young-woo. "Japan Display might also be a candidate, but so far its capacity seems lacking."

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently hinted during the company's third-quarter earnings call that it will possibly enter new product categories next year. The long-rumored iWatch is likely that to which Cook was referring.

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