Samsung confirms a smartwatch is in the works

Samsung confirmed reports that it too is preparing a connected wristwatch, probably under the Galaxy brand.

Hot on the heels of speculation that Apple is developing a smartwatch, Samsung confirmed reports that it too is preparing a connected wristwatch, probably under the Galaxy brand.

"We've been preparing the watch product for so long," Lee Young Hee, executive VP of Samsung's mobile business, told Bloomberg during an interview in Seoul. "We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them," he added.

The Samsung executive was coy about giving out details on the upcoming smartwatch functionality, including how much it would cost or when it will be available to buy. However, "a source with direct knowledge" quoted by Reuters claims the smart wristwatch will perform many tasks of a smartphone.

Samsung's acknowledgement gives credence to images posted in February on a South Korean message board, which purportedly show the interface of the smartwatch.

The images indicate the device would be called the Galaxy Altius, with features such as a clock, music player, maps, and an email client. It apparently runs on a customized version of Android, like the rest of the Samsung Galaxy devices line.

Although the Galaxy Altius would not be first smartwatch from Samsung, the timing of the new product confirmation is peculiar. Last month, the New York Times and Bloomberg reported that Apple has a team of around 100 engineers and product designers working on a smartwatch that would have some iPhone and iPad functionality, which they suggested means this development is beyond the experimentation project. As usual, Apple did not confirm the reports.

Samsung's smartwatch history

Samsung has been working on smartwatches for over a decade, and has some patents dating back to 2003 on some designs, as UnwiredReview points out. (The image at the top of this story is the Samsung Proximo concept smartwatch from 2009 by Joahn Loekito.) However, none of the models were particularly successful. So it will be interesting to see whether Samsung will wait for Apple to release a smartwatch first before unveiling its own model--if Apple actually releases such a device.

Perhaps this year would be the year when wearable tech will become mainstream. Aside from Samsung and Apple's wrist wear, Google is also finalizing its Glass connected eye wear, and we have seen quasi-popular smartwatch examples from the likes of the Kickstarter-founded Pebble, which shipped some 25,000 units so far.

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Daniel Ionescu

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