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wearables lected data “just noise,” she said. User interface is another issue, Sun added. “If your smartwatch screen remains always dark or blank because it must save energy, it makes your smartwatch look like just a cheap watch.” The smartwatch needs to have an always-on screen, like that of AMOLED, she explained, so that the iconic user interface or its logo stays always on display. Charging frequency Dai wondered how often a user should have to charge his smartwatch: once a day, every three days, once week, a month, six months. The audience mixed realism with optimism. Eleven said once a week, another eleven chose every three days. Nine wanted a once-a-month recharge, six preferred six months. Three pessimists figured the charge would die in 24 hours. 3Wearable Technology CEO Xiong said, “Extending the charging frequency from one day to three days would make no difference to users. It’s unacceptable having to charge a smartphone even once every three days.” Vincent Gu, an independent industry analyst (formerly with IHS), pointed out, “What matters more is a usage scenario.” Some people may prefer to wear the watch from Monday through Friday (without charging) and leave it behind at home for charging on weekends, he explained. 5 obstacles for wearables The wearable device business is easier said than done. By listing five obstacles facing the wearable industry, Dai asked the audience to rank their concerns, placing the value from one to five with five being their highest concern. “The lack of a business model” for wearable devices scored the highest (4.0), the “immature industry chain” and “lack of industry standard” tied for second (3.7), “data fragmentation (because people are not always wearing the device)” came in fourth (3.5). “Ineffective technology” ranked last (2.9). As a dissenter, GlobalSources’ Sun passionately reiterated her view that the technology should be the biggest concern for everyone. What we have today “just isn’t good enough,” she said. Yan Wen Ma, CEO at Vane, disagreed. His big worry is the lack of a platform, without which different wearables can’t build the (Source: VeriSilicon) business, he noted. Ex-Huawei VP Zhang told the audience: “At issue is the lack of a standard.” Wearable/IoT devices exist today in isolation. One type of device talks to one cloud using its own connectivity. “With no standard and no certificate in place, the situation today is chaos.” Wearable usage models But then, who will be using wearable devices for what purposes? Ranked highest (4) was “wearables for medical applications,” while the second highest (3.9) was “wearable for fashion.” Third (3.1) was “wearables for industrial applications (i.e. for workers in factories, warehouses; prisoners),” followed by “wearables for pets” (2.9) and “wearables for agriculture” (2.6). The panel grouped five multiple choice answers given by Dai into two categories: wearable devices “you must wear” vs. wearables “you want to wear.” A majority of the audience saw those who have to wear wearables — fragile old people, wandering kids, prisoners and pets — as the trailblazers of the wearable frontier. Nevertheless, 3Wearable Technology CEO Xiong insisted that the wearable won’t become a volume market unless “people want to wear it.” Fashion must drive wearables, he noted. Can Apple Watch beat Swatch? Chinese wearable experts want to know how Apple Watch stacks up against Swatch. Or if the Apple Watch will encroach on the market for luxury Swiss watches like TAGHeuer. Zhang cited the Apple Watch’s high cost. It’s a status symbol that he might pass on to his daughter. Most of the panel disagreed, noting that the electronics content in the Apple Watch will render it quickly obsolete. The technophiles in the crowd pooh-poohed the smart watch as luxury goods. Some said flat out that only a fool with too much money would buy the most expensive Apple Watch. If this is so, then can a low-end Apple Watch, such as Apple Watch Sport, beat Swatch? “Swatchers” (who wear Swatches) said they wouldn’t trade. The conclusion seems to be that the smartwatch must stand on its own merits. It replaces neither TAGHeuer nor Swatch. Its features have to diverge from and go beyond old-school timepieces. Who will win the smartwatch battle? As possible winners on the smartphone sweepstakes, Dai listed mobile handset guys (i.e. Samsung, Motorola), sports gear vendors like Nike and Adidas; new players and startups (i.e. Pebble), Internet companies (i.e. Google; Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd., a Chinese Internet security company), Swiss watchmakers (i.e. Swatch; TAGHeuer), white box vendors; and “lurkers” (i.e. Xiaomi, Han Wang – an eBook vendor) who are choosing to “wait-and-see” for now. Tied at the top were Internet companies and mobile handset vendors (3.6) followed by new startups (3.2). Next were the lurkers (3.1), Swiss watch makers (2.9) and sports gear vendors (2.4). The audience showed little confidence in whitebox vendors (2.1). Who will rule the smart home? Out of 34 voters at the forum, a majority of 20 voted for Internet companies as likeliest to corner the market. Remaining votes were equally split — with 7 votes each — between traditional home appliance companies and new smart home hardware vendors. Ex-Huawei VP Zhang promoted his view that China should have its own smart home standard on the API level, similar to Thread or HomeKit. The panel, however, did not dwell on Zhang’s proposal. 18 Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


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