Sunday, 26 October 2014

Changing Times: The Samsung Gear S Smartwatch

During just a few of years we have witnessed a number of wearable devices hitting the high street. The health and fitness market has enjoyed the most success so far, with devices such as the Fitbit, Nike’s FuelBand and Garmin’s Vivofit, used on a daily basis by around two million fitness focused individuals in the UK.  In 2013, the smartwatch began to gather momentum with Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm all launching multifunction watches as complementary devices to their smartphones aimed at the high-end consumer market.

As the name suggests smartwatches do much more than tell the time; supporting mobile apps, media players, cameras, fitness tracking and heart rate monitors. They also have an on-board accelerometer, altimeter, and compass; as well as use Bluetooth connectivity to connect to a smartphone in order to display text messages and caller ID.

One to watch for enterprise use? 
So with all this rich functionality, coupled with their practical advantages, will smartwatches be used in the corporate space? The short answer is no. Whilst being capable of delivering business applications, smartwatches ultimately depend on having a complementary smartphone to deliver the wireless connectivity, which weakens the business case. 
However, this could all be about to change following a recent announcement by Samsung, unveiling what it says will deliver the ‘most advanced wearable experience yet’:  The Samsung Gear S, the first smartwatch to introduce 3G connectivity, available from October 2014.
3G connectivity is just the tip of the iceberg. Samsung’s new wearable offering is the first of its kind to contain a 2” curved Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 480 x 360 pixels. It’s powerful too, with its 1GHz dual-core CPU and 512MB of RAM. It features 4GB of built-in memory, 2G/3G, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS/GLONASS, and USB 2.0.

It comes with built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, heart rate monitor, ambient light and UV sensors, and a barometer. It is IP67 certified for water and dust resistance. By today’s standards, the Gear S measurements wouldn't look out of place next to a standard watch, at 39.8 x 58.3 x 12.5mm. Its 300mAh battery will power two days of typical usage.
The Gear S comes complete with a range of apps from social networking, calendars and applications which function with or without a smartphone. It also includes useful turn-by-turn pedestrian navigation provided by HERE.

To top off this long list of impressive capabilities, the Gear S enables users to seamlessly make and receive calls directly from their wrist (an optional Bluetooth enabled neck accessory can also be used for receiving calls). It allows users to instantly reply to incoming messages using the onscreen keyboard, or utilize enhanced S voice functionality to ensure tasks can be completed immediately.

Potential future use cases
With more enhanced multi-sensors, built-in GPS, and robust S Health features, the Samsung Gear S is the perfect health and fitness companion. Applications such as Nike+ Running allow users to track their runs and stay motivated while on the move, without having to take their smartphone. Taking this functionality into the healthcare space would be a natural progression.

In the domiciliary care sector, the heart rate monitor and accelerometer could be put to good use for monitoring elderly or at risk people. Any concerning changes in movement or BPM could be rapidly identified, with the relevant clinicians, care workers, relatives and even ambulance service then alerted. Needless to say, saving precious time in emergency situations, should they arise, dramatically improves healthcare outcomes and ultimately saves lives.

More specifically, the Gear S has sensors which could be applied to great effect in caring for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s Syndrome. Sensors within the smartwatch could detect trips or falls, again automatically alerting relevant parties so that a quick response can be put into action. The GPS in the smartwatch could also be used to monitor the whereabouts of the individual, notifying carers if they stray too far beyond their normal domain; offering peace of mind and less dependency on others. A panic button could even be introduced.

There are numerous use cases that would suit next generation smartwatches, from the simple to the more sophisticated, including time and attendance monitoring, process compliance and health and safety, in a whole range of industry sectors. Equipped with this kind of enterprise-friendly capability, provided the price point is right, we will begin to see take up of smartwatches gradually increase in the corporate space, as the business case changes.  Not ones to fall behind the curve, TBS  have developed an extension to our TaskMaster enterprise mobility platform for future support of smartwatch technologies.

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