October 01, 2013, 12:40 PM — Samsung's upcoming Galaxy Gear smartwatch is seen as an extension of the smartphone, but research is under way to see how the wearable device could work with electronics such as TVs.
The smartwatch, which was introduced earlier this month, has a 1.6-inch screen and can show email, text or call notifications from a Galaxy smartphone. The watch is not able to connect to the Internet on its own, but works with a Galaxy smartphone so users can also view Web content, complete eBay transactions, map out locations or even receive weather information.The watch will initially connect with Galaxy devices such as the Galaxy Note 3, but Samsung is looking into how the smartwatch could be used with its Smart TVs and other networked devices, said Ryan Bidan, director of product marketing at Samsung.
Samsung has wirelessly linked up its smartphones, TVs and tablets so content can be easily shared across devices. But the smartwatch works best with smartphones for now, and there are fewer reasons to link it to tablets and even fewer for its Smart TVs, which are not portable and have no cellular connectivity.
The company is relying on developers to find specific ways to use the watch with TV sets, Bidan said. Samsung is hosting its annual developer conference toward the end of October in San Francisco, and Bidan said some solutions could emerge there.
The emerging wearable device market is gaining momentum and companies are investigating possibilities of products like smartwatches and glasses.
One application being explored by Samsung for smartwatches is health, where TVs could be applicable. Information from a diet-tracker, fitness tracker or pedometer on the Gear can be transferred for use on a TV. Samsung already offers the S-Health app for Galaxy smartphones and tablets, and developers could create a health app for Samsung's Smart TVs.
One obvious use of the smartwatch is as a no-frills TV controller, said Roger Kay, president and principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.
For example, users could change channels or volume. It could also be used to receive alerts from TVs or digital video recorders, but Kay had some reservations about those uses.
"Even though that could be done, it seems inelegant," Kay said. "The user experience could be wobbly."
The smartwatch won't make a good content player or storage device, Kay said. But it could be used to receive notifications or to change temperature on ovens, Kay said.
"The idea of using it as a control point for [electronics] would be an obvious thing," Kay said.
The Gear will be compatible with Galaxy Note 3 on release, but support will be extended to more Galaxy smartphones and tablets this holiday season, Samsung executives said.