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Intel thinks it’s time for smartwatches

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Intel's CTO has indicated that the company is looking at developing wearable communication devices. 

Pebble Watches Smartwatches are still in their early days and are not yet in a position to replace a smartphone as a communications device.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Next Big Thing Summit in California, which concluded on June 18, Intel’s Justin Rattner said that the company is currently testing experimental devices. “Actually, we’re looking at novel display devices. The watch is kind of – if you want to put the time on it, that’s fine,” he said. “But if you’re talking about texting today, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just look at your wrist?”

Intel gave no clue as to how far advanced the devices are but the admission is the latest from a growing number of companies that claim to be interested in bringing high-tech to the wrist.

Apple and Google are both rumored to be developing smartwatch-type devices, and recent leaks reveal that the team that developed Microsoft’s Xbox are currently using that same expertise to create a smartwatch that would be focused as much on motion tracking and biometric data as on pushing notifications and providing a smartphone communications accessory.

On Friday, Acer also confirmed that it is seriously examining the potential of wearable technology and will launch its first product in that category in 2014. Speaking to Pocket-lint , ST Liew, president of Acer's smartphone group said: "We are looking at wearable, I think every consumer company should be looking at wearable. Wearable isn't new ... it just hasn't exploded in the way that it should. But the opportunity's for billions of dollars' worth of industry."

"I think the trick is making the right trade-off, so that you put the right package of what people are expecting into a wearable. Is a day battery enough? It might be, if the charging mechanism is easy. You take off your watch at night, throw it on the side and it inductively charges," he explained."So are we thinking along those lines? Yes, absolutely. You should expect something like that from us as well next year."

And although numerous companies are rumored to be developing wearable devices, Acer’s announcement brings the number of companies who have actually confirmed their intentions up to three. In March, Samsung and LG both officially stated that they are actively developing smartwatches too and that they would hope to launch their first devices before the end of 2013.

And while for many consumers there is still no clear killer application or clear use case for a smartwatch, industry analysts believe that by the end of 2013 1.2 million devices, such as the Pebble Watch and the I’m Watch, will have shipped. According to ABI Research senior analyst Joshua Flood: “The strong potential emergence of smart watches can be attributed to several reasons. Contributing factors include the high penetration of smartphones in many world markets, the wide availability and low cost of MEMS sensors, energy efficient connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0, and a flourishing app ecosystem.”

However, he believes that wearable devices that can replace a smartphone are still some way from becoming a reality. “Smart watches that replicate the functionality of a mobile handset or smartphone are not yet commercially feasible, though the technologies are certainly being prepared,” adds Flood.

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