Samsung to unveil Galaxy Gear smartwatch next week in Berlin

Launch will begin 'wearable technology' war as Apple, Google and Microsoft prepare for battle

LAST UPDATED AT 15:05 ON Wed 28 Aug 2013

SAMSUNG will kick start a 'wearable technology' war next week after announcing that it would unveil its Galaxy Gear smartwatch in Berlin. The launch will steal a march on its rivals Apple and Google, who are not expected to launch their own devices until next year.

Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business division, made the announcement in the Korea Times, telling the paper that the device would be released on 4 September ahead of the IFA consumer electronics fair. She added that the watch would be Android powered, but would not feature the highly anticipated flexible screen that the company has been working on.

She claimed the "new wearable concept device" would "enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience".

It's not yet clear what the watch will offer the wearer. Website Tech Crunch suggests the first Galaxy Gear product will act as "more of an accessory device" than a piece of standalone technology. It adds that Lee's comments about the launch suggest that "Samsung is designing this not only as something that's aimed at early adopters, but also as something of a fashion accessory".

However, patent filings discovered earlier this month suggest Samsung may have rather more ambitious plans for the wristwatch, reports the Daily Telegraph. The filings indicated that the device "would be able to make and receive phone calls, send emails and texts, store information and access the internet".

The smartwatch market is set to become a key battleground for the tech giants. "The South Korean company [Samsung] is making the first major launch in what may soon become a crowded market," says the paper. "Google and Apple have filed patent documents suggesting they plan to develop watches, while Microsoft has confirmed it is working on a version of its own."

And it's not just watches that are being developed. Google’s long-awaited Google Glass spectacles are expected to go on sale next year and Apple is also rumoured to be working on computerised shoes.

But will it catch on? "There have been rosy analysts' reports on the huge potential of the smartwatch market, but little indication that a significant number of people are very interested in reviving what had until recently been a dying piece of hardware," says The Register. "There's also the challenge of getting developers on board who can get something usable out of a tiny screen and parsimonious battery life."

Developers are confident, though. Last month, Samsung chief strategy officer Young Sohn told a conference in San Francisco that technology would soon become like part of the owner's clothing. "You won’t even know you’re wearing the device," he told the Daily Mail. "It will monitor your health, connect to the cloud, identify you, pay for things and replace credit cards." · 

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