19 November 2013

Qualcomm Introduces Toq Concept Smartwatch For Retail

Qualcomm is the latest developer to release a smartwatch in the wearable electronics category. The Qualcomm Toq (pronounced “talk”) smartwatch will be released on Cyber Monday, December 2 for $349.99.

The Toq is Android compatible and will connect to smartphones running Android 4.0.3 and above, though the watch is optimized for 4.3 Jelly Bean. The smartwatch features several technologies developed by Qualcomm, such as a Qualcomm Mirasol display; WiPower LE technology to enable wireless charging; and a stereo Bluetooth audio experience with stereo headphones that sit outside the ear canal.

“The Toq smartwatch showcases the key Qualcomm innovations, such as Mirasol always on low power display, AllJoyn interactions and WiPower LE wireless charging, that will define the emerging wearable category,” said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Qualcomm.

“Like a traditional watch, Toq displays information at a glance with no on/off switch. And paired with a smartphone to receive notifications and content, it allows the watch to seamlessly merge our physical and digital lives. Leveraging these and other industry-leading technologies, we and our partners will enable new product opportunities and consumer experiences.”

The wearable technology market continues to grow. A recent forecast from Juniper Research expects the market to reach $19 billion by 2018. Some of the smartwatch market’s dominant players include the Pebble smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and the Sony Xperia. It is also likely the smartwatch market will see an entry from Apple in the future.

“Everybody seems to be jumping into the hardware business these days, even B2B infrastructure companies like Qualcomm. Unless the Toq is a revolutionary product, Qualcomm has an uphill battle breaking through the noise generated by the likes of Samsung, Apple and others that are well known B2C brands,” Josh Crandall, principal analyst at NetPop Research told redOrbit.

Qualcomm is releasing the Toq as a concept watch, even though it will be available at retail. While the company hopes to generate sales, the smartwatch’s strength is in its components. Qualcomm can sell or license the technologies to smartwatch manufacturers for use in their smartwatches and wearable tech gear.

“I think Qualcomm’s concept is sound in that they tried to build a complementary device to the smartphone, not a smartphone in a watch; and they did it with technologies to provide a compelling experience like the Mirasol display and wireless charging for both the device and the ear plugs. Granted, the first devices are rather expensive and bland, they will evolve over time,” Jim McGregor, TIRIAS Research founder and principal analyst, told redOrbit.

The Qualcomm Toq, as well as other smartwatches in development, take warning.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that everything needs to be intelligent or essentially the equivalent of a smartphone. They do not. In fact, IoT/IoE is all about building intelligent distributed solutions that put the resources where they fit the best, which could be in the device, a hub solution like a smartphone of wireless router, the edge of the network, or even the cloud, said McGreggor.

The Toq smartwatch will be able to handle a number of tasks. Wearers will be able to accept and reject calls, view text messages and meeting alerts, and selectively receive notifications from their smartphone or AllJoyn-enabled devices. When answering calls, wearers will still have to talk into the phone or a headset, not directly through the watch ala Dick Tracy.

Now read: Google smartwatch coming sooner


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