LAS VEGAS – Sales of wrist-worn bands, including smart watches, are ramping up, led by basic bands serving a specific set of purposes and acting as a smartphone accessory.
But multipurpose smart bands capable of running third-party apps, and smart bands with embedded 2G/3G cellular connectivity, have also emerged to capture consumers’ disposable dollars.
Cellphone and CE suppliers are stepping up their activities in both segments at CTIA, where products unveiled in recent days at IFA are on display on the convention floor or off-site.
Attendees will find smart and basic bands watches from Samsung, LG, Omate and Timex. At the IFA show, Sony introduced its first Android Wear smart watch and a smart band with ability to place calls through a Bluetooth-connected smartphone, but Sony does not have an on- or off-site presence at the CTIA show.
For its part, NPD’s Weekly Tracking Service shows the U.S. wearables market through August 23 hit $700 million at the retail level, including wearable action cameras, digital fitness devices, smart watches, sports watches, fitness bands, activity monitors and GPS/tracking watches for kids.
“By end of year, I can see the size of this wearables market reaching $1.1 billion,” said Ben Arnold, executive director of NPD.
Here’s how key industry players hope to capture leading shares of the wrist-worn devices in the market:
LG: The company’s second Android Wear smart atch is promoted as the first watch-style wearable with circular Plastic OLED (P-OLED) display. The LG G Watch R will be available in major world markets early in the fourth quarter. Pricing wasn’t announced.
The 1.3-inch 320 by 320 display covers the watch’s entire face and is said to deliver clarity even under bright sunlight and at any angle. The watch will run compatible Android Wear apps available on the Google Play store.
The IP67 dust- and water-resistant device features Qualcomm 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM and 410 mAh battery. It will run for up to 30 minutes under 1 meter of water.
It also features voice recognition and runs LG health and fitness apps, including an app to monitor heartbeats via an embedded sensor.
Users also pause, play and skip music tracks on a Bluetooth-connected Android phone.
Timex: The company is adding its first cellularequipped smart watch, which is on display in the AT&T booth.
The $399 Timex Iron Man One GPS+ is equipped with built-in GPS and cellular radio, which receives text messages and email via AT&T’s 3G HSPA network. Users must sign up for a Timex email account. It also transmits performance data to the Cloud.
The watch lacks cellular voice capability, and to get text messages, it requires a phone number separate from a user’s main phone.
The Timex Iron Man One GPS+ will be available in November with one free year of AT&T service.
The touchscreen-equipped watch also incorporates built-in 4GB MP3 player. Fitness- and running-related apps are also included and connect to fitness sensors via Bluetooth with no smartphone required.
Bundled with a Bluetooth heart-rate monitor, it will be priced at $450.
The watch features an always-on Qualcomm Mirasol display that’s readable in sunlight, and a “find me mode” lets users send an alert with exact location in emergencies. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivers eight hours of use with GPS and cellular on.
Samsung: A new smart watch incorporates 2G/3G cellular and Wi-Fi so users can get social-network updates and send and receive texts even if they’re away from their smartphone.
When away from their smartphone, users can receive 2G and 3G calls forwarded from the phone. Users can also connect to their smartphone via Bluetooth to make and receive calls from their wrist.
The Samsung Gear S, which doubles as a music player and fitness tracker, is built on the company’s Tizen OS and downloads Samsung apps. The company also offers Android Wear OS smart watches.
The Gear S, which features a curved 2-inch 360 by 480 Super AMOLED display, will be available globally in a phased rollout starting October. Pricing wasn’t announced.
It comes with turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation provided by Nokia Here and with a 24-hour news service from the Financial Times.
For health and fitness enthusiasts, the Gear S features built-in GPS, multiple sensors, Samsung’s S Health applications and other apps.
The watch features IP67 certification for dust and water resistance, dual-core 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM and 4GB storage.
Omate: The company will bring its Omate X smartwatch devices to market in North and Latin America through Quality One Wireless of Orlando, Fla.
The Omate X follows the launch of the TrueSmart smart watch, which acts as a companion to Android and iOS smartphones.
Omate X receives push notifications of incoming calls, social media updates, messages, reminders and more. It lasts up to a week in standby mode, and it can be controlled by voice.