The Evolution of Smartwatches

In recent years, smartwatches have developed rapidly, and shipments have risen from more than 3 million in 2014 to nearly 200 million. It is expected that smartwatches will maintain double-digit high growth in the future. Last year, Apple’s new generation of watch, Apple watch series 6, launched the blood oxygen measurement function.

The origin of smartwatches can be traced back to the 1920s. Later, under the exploration of watch manufacturers and electronics factories, they gradually formed the appearance of modern smartwatches around 2010. With the addition of Apple in 2015, smartwatches have entered a period of vigorous development.

1927~2000 Early exploration stage of smartwatches

In 1927, a British company launched a GPS device in the form of a watch with a built-in scrolling map navigator. Just then watch manufacturers began to realize that watches can provide other services except for watching the time. This is the beginning of the transition from watches to smartwatches.

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In 1941, Mimo Loga, the first watch capable of calculation, was launched. There is a rotatable logarithmic table outside the dial of the watch, through which the wearer can perform simple calculations. Since then, smartwatches have appeared one after another, and their functions and applications have also continued to innovate.

In 1972, the first digital watch Pulsar’s LED engineering machine was launched, which can display the time on the LED screen through red numbers. Three years later, Hamilton Watch Company launched the world’s first electronic calculator watch Time Computer/Calculator.

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In 1982, the Japanese Seiko Watch Corporation introduced the T001 TV watch, which used 10 different gray images to display video, but it was necessary to link the watch with a radio receiver to receive the signal.

In the next two years, the company launched two different watches, the database watch D409 series and the UC-2000 with an optional keyboard/printer computer unit. UC-2000 can input text and run BASIC language, or load program from ROM card and display it on the watch display.

In 1985, Epson introduced the world’s first independent computer watch. Based on the Zilog Z80 RC-20, the program can be loaded to the RC-20 through the ROM accessory and displayed on the LCD screen of the watch without peripheral assistance. That is, from this time on, the watch can run applications independently.

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In 1998, Seiko launched the Ruputer wrist computer with 16-bit 3.6MHz CPU, 128KB RAM and 2MB storage space, which can load any program written for the platform.

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In 1999, Samsung launched the phone watch SPH-WP10. The watch is equipped with a monochrome LCD, built-in speaker and microphone. It can talk continuously for 90 minutes and has functions such as voice dialing and voice-to-text. It is considered the originator of all telephone watches.

From 2000 to 2014, the stage of smartwatch function improvement

In 2000, IBM launched the first smartwatch Linux Watch running Linux operating system, equipped with 8MB RAM and 8MB flash memory. In 2001, IBM and Citizen jointly launched the WatchPad 1.5 prototype product, which is also equipped with a Linux system and uses a 74MHz ARM CPU. IBM has greatly advanced the research of smartwatches.

In 2003, Timex significantly upgraded its Data Link series. Users can load different applications to the Ironman Data Link USB watch, including games and fitness applications. This means that smartwatches are further upgraded in terms of function expansion.

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In 2004, Microsoft joined hands with watch manufacturers such as Fossil and Swatch to launch a touch-screen smartwatch, MicrosoftSPOT. The watch can change the background of the dial, check messages, news, weather and other information. You can also make schedules and have wireless charging capabilities. This watch is very close to the current mainstream smartwatch.

In 2007, Sony Ericsson released a Bluetooth-enabled smartwatch MBW-150, which can send notifications from the phone, such as incoming calls and text messages, and can also control the phone’s music.

In 2009, Samsung launched a forward-looking product SamsungS9110. This watch is equipped with a 1.76-inch touch screen with MP3 playback, voice recognition and Bluetooth connectivity. Although this product was loved by some users, it did not succeed in the mass market.

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In 2011, Motorola Motoactv came out. The watch supports wired and Bluetooth headset connections and has more advanced sports monitoring functions. In addition to keeping steps and recording calorie consumption, it also supports switching of multiple sports modes, such as running, cycling, and even golf.

In 2013, Samsung released the smartwatch Galaxy Gear. This watch can be connected to smartphones and tablets and has a voice recognition function. It can make calls, write emails, confirm schedules, check the weather, and set alarms.

2014~2020 The rapid development stage of smartwatches

2014 was the year when smartwatches broke the ice. In March, Google released Android Wear and entered the smartwatch market. In the same year, Samsung Gear Live, LG G watch and Moto 360 were officially released with Android Wear, and smartwatches began to enter the consumer market. In 2015, Apple and Huawei successively released smartwatch products, pushing the development of smartwatches to a climax.

In 2014, Samsung launched a variety of smartwatches, including Gear S and Gear Live. Gear Live is equipped with Android Wear, 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display, equipped with 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, supporting heart rate monitoring, dustproof and the waterproof level has reached IP67.

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In 2014, LG launched the first Android smartwatch, LG G Watch W100, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 512MB of running memory, and 4GB of body storage. It can be connected to all mobile phones of the Android system, prompting to update WeChat, email, etc. in time. In 2015, LG launched several products, among which LG Watch Urbane runs Android Wear, Watch Urbane LTE supports 4G connection and uses webOS.

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In 2014, Motorola launched the first generation Moto 360 smartwatch, which runs the operating system of the Google Android Wear platform. Built-in TI OMAP 3 processor, with 4GB memory and 512RAM, screen size 1.56 inches, support Bluetooth 4.0.

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In 2014, Apple announced the new product Apple Watch at the September autumn conference and officially released it at the March 2015 spring new product conference. It is divided into three series: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Apple Watch uses a sapphire screen with two screen sizes. It supports dozens of functions such as phone calls, voice response text messages, connection to cars, weather, flight information, map navigation, music playback, heartbeat measurement, step counting, etc. It is a comprehensive health and exercise tracking device.

In 2015, Huawei released the first Android Wear smartwatch, Huawei Watch. It uses a 1.4-inch AMOLED display, sapphire glass, a heart rate sensor, a motion sensor, a barometric pressure sensor, a touch sensor, a built-in microphone, and it supports incoming calls, text messages, emails, etc. The calendar and social network’s message instant reminder function, online intelligent voice function, can calculate altitude, record various daily exercise information and sleep monitoring.

From 2015 to the present, Apple, Huawei and other manufacturers have launched several smartwatches to participate in the competition every year. The shipment of smartwatches has increased year by year. Data shows that the shipment of smartwatches in 2014 was 3.4 million. In 2015, with the addition of Apple and Huawei, shipments have grown rapidly to 20.8 million. By 2019, shipments reached 62.63 million.

Besides, according to a report at the end of 2020, global smartwatch shipments are expected to reach 194 million in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 17.1% from 2017 to 2020. The top five manufacturers with a market rate accounted for 30% of their shipments, followed by Apple, Huawei, Samsung, Gaimin, and BBK. Besides, the white-label market shipments accounted for 58%.

In the future, with the gradual improvement of technology, the continuous improvement of people’s health awareness, and the acceleration of manufacturers, it is expected that the development of the smartwatch market will continue to improve.