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Will smartwatches have as big an impact as smartphones?
Experts say the technology isn't quite there yet
Sony's smartwatch has limited capabilities.
Sony's smartwatch has limited capabilities. CC BY: atlnav
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pple, Samsung, and other tech companies would very much appreciate it if you snatched up one of their rumored smartwatches. In Apple's case, critics have been clamoring for the company to roll out a new, market-shaking product for months, and breathless investors are hoping that the iWatch will be The Next Big Thing, especially now that the smartphone industry has more-or-less reached maturity.

Will smartwatches have the same paradigm-shifting impact as smartphones? Eh, probably not — or so says Skooks Pong, VP of technology at Synapse, which engineered the FuelBand for Nike.

As Sony can attest, the first few iterations of the smartwatch will be severely limited in their capabilities, mostly due to their tiny frames. "The wearables don't have enough power to do what a smartphone does today," Pong tells Business Insider. "You think about your iPhone or your Samsung Galaxy, you think about the type of content and what you do with that, I just don't see it happening in the next several years on your wrist." 

One of the fundamental problems facing computerized bracelets is that the small parts necessary to create a tasteful, non-bulky gadget don't exist yet. While Moore's Law suggests that technology is always shrinking, it doesn't apply to one crucial area: A gadget's power supply. (Read our explainer on why your phone's battery life stinks here.)

A smartwatch would presumably need to go days on end without a charge — a feat that isn't even possible on our relatively spacious smartphones. As Dan Rowinski at ReadWrite notes, "Power usage in mobile devices is more about the operating system the device runs… [l]oading and running a smartphone-style operating system on a watch-sized device would require significant processing and modem power." 

It's like trying to fit the cozy furnishings of a three-bedroom home into a tiny one-bedroom apartment. Sure, it's doable. But it won't be pretty.

And in order for smartwatches to really take off, they'll have to do a lot more than beam snack-sized bites of content and notifications to your wrist — stuff the Pebble already does, anyway. To be a truly market-defining product, "there has to be something that makes it more interesting and changes the way you go about your daily life to make it something that everybody's really going to want," says Pong, "like the smartphone when it came out." 

(Via Business Insider)

Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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