One quick look at Samsung’s new Gear Fit, with the world’s first curved SuperAMOLD colour screen and you know the company is on to a winner. It’s 1.84 inches diagonally, with a resolution of just 128×432 pixels, but it looks gorgeous.
Since the Gear Fit is a feature filled fitness band, rather than a smartwatch, it’s able to maximise its function without trying to be something more expansive. Smartwatches attempt to replace smartphones and rarely do a comparable job. In the case of this fitness band though, it should end up offering more than most other fitness devices, which due to lacking much input or screen space to tell you what’s going on, more often than not have to link up with a smartphone to provide even basic functionality.
However the Gear Fit shows future potential beyond just fitness tracking. The main problem with smartwatches is that they’re adapted from smartphones. Looking at the custom made wearable display on the Gear Fit shows us that if a smartwatch was made with hardware and software specifically designed with the new form factor in mind, we could be looking at much more useful devices. Sure it’s going to be pretty much impossible to make a typing interface on a wrist-mounted device – it’s just too small – but voice commands, gestures, those should all be doable. Combine that with a tiny touch sensitive display like the Gear Fit and we could be on to a winner.
When the Gear Fit is hooked up to a smartphone for added functionality, it also works as a control, giving you media functions on your wrist, which is a much simpler way of changing tracks during a workout. It’s these sorts of paradigm shifts which need to come in to play for wearables to get the real treatment they deserve. They shouldn’t be tethered to inputs on a smartphone, but should be providing that input themselves.
Battery technology may hold back displays like this for now, since the Gear Fit is only rated to last for two to three days before requiring a recharge. While that’s nothing compared to most smartphones, which reliably need a full recharge every 48 hours, it’s still not great for a simple gadget you want to throw on when you work out. However there are big developments coming in the field of lithium-ion technology, with silicon and battery stack changes looking to reduce charge times to minutes instead of hours, which could be the lifeline to products like this to give them a real kickstart in the market.
Even though the Gear Fit seems like Samsung’s perhaps most forward thinking device, it’s also looking into round faced smartwatches, suggesting even it isn’t quite sure where the wearables market is going, which makes us feel a whole lot better about not being sure ourselves.