Samsung would love to get the jump on archrival Apple by establishing a new category of wearable devices. But if all the Korean giant has to offer is an Android watch, it won't make the folks in Cupertino reach for a fig leaf.
I believe someday a new category of wearables will emerge based on a variety of devices that work in concert, maybe including watches, glasses, shoes, and more. Reports that Samsung may launch something called Galaxy Gear suggest it is thinking along these lines.
The same reports, however, say the first device is an Android watch. I saw LG's CTO wearing a cellular watch at CES a few years back, and after the oohs and aahs, it died a quiet death. Microsoft's Spot watch had a similar fate.
Mike Muller, chief technologist for ARM, is a bit of a skeptic, too. Muller shared his thoughts on wearables and more with me in a telephone interview last week.
"Watches have been disappointing to me because their functionality is too limited to make them compelling," Muller said. "But we think jewelry could be a platform that's interesting," he said.
Muller and others see "worried well" fitness devices and implanted medical sensors as fertile ground for spawning really useful wearables. Indeed, FitBit caught some people's imagination, including industry veteran and Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell. Muller quipped that the connected scales he has at home created a new category of "guilt as a service."
These devices require innovative thinking more than new technology, Muller said. Just days after we spoke, ARM disclosed plans for near-threshold processors, so the horizon for low-power chips is good.
What's more foggy is the future of privacy and security for the very personal data wearables collect. "We don't have a simple answer to this, and I don't believe we will because it's an industry-wide problem," Muller said.
Separately, these small micros already have hardware-backed security techniques, but they lack standards for secure, over-the-air firmware upgrades, he said.
Finally, Muller took his own personal swipe at that much ballyhooed term, the Internet of Things. "IoT is rebranded embedded, because no one will write about embedded, but if you call it IoT everyone will," he quipped.