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Why it’s time for a Google smart watch

Google is exploring the idea of making a smart watch according to a Business Insider source. The unnamed source suggests that Google(S GOOG) is researching how to market such a device and BI notes certain relevant patents Google has that would support such a product. Even with the report, which I’d consider a rumor at this point, now’s the time for a Google smart watch for a number of reasons I can think of. The biggest one? Google already has a smart watch on the market.

Hello Moto

I’m talking about the Motorola MotoActv, the part smart watch, part exercise tracker that I bought nearly a year ago. Although Google has kept Motorola as a separate business division since purchasing the company in 2011, for all intents and purposes, whatever Motorola makes is a Google product. The watch also runs a highly customized version of Android. In fact, its been one of the most stable Android devices I’ve ever used.

motoactv_mr7_notificationsI originally bought the watch to track my running activities because it’s ideal for that. Inside the watch are various sensors and radios including: Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and accelerometer. Flash storage of 8 or 16 GB adds room for music tracks which can be listened to through wired or wireless headphones. The software also supports my golf habit, tracking my scores, shots and providing detailed distance to the pin or to various golf hazards.

Later, I began wearing the watch every day when Motorola added support for the companion Android app for handsets built by other manufacturers. All of a sudden, my exercise tracker started notifying me of incoming messages, mail, tweets and upcoming calendar events. And it works well. Google could easily advance the device, features and software because it has a solid product to start with.

More data required, please

The second reason I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Google smart watch? The company really isn’t yet part of the wearable device market that’s gathering steam. Yes, Google’s Project Glass is entry here, but at $1,500 for a developer edition, it’s not a consumer device yet. It will take time before these high-tech glasses appear on retail shelves, if they ever do. And even if they do, they’re not likely to be part of the “quantified self” concept; a watch like the MotoActv is because it captures personal data such as steps taken, calories burned and more.

That reason alone is a good one for Google to design such a device. The company thrives on gathering and aggregating the world’s data but it really doesn’t have a good hook into health data. Even if Google could sell a smart watch to just 10 percent of Android devices owners, it would have access to quantified self data of over 50 million individuals in year, based on the 1.5 million Android devices that are activated every day. That’s some big data.

Since Google could easily build off of the existing MotoActv watch, I don’t think it would take too much time or effort to improve the device quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see a Google smart watch at this year’s Google I/O event, in fact. Time will tell, of course.

6 Responses to “Why it’s time for a Google smart watch”

  1. Please not more Google in my life. i would prefer a Rolex or Omega or Suunto making a smart watch. Have had enough of Google in my search, email, sheets, maps, phones, netbooks…

    Anyway, watches are more like jewelry these days. Add some smart features, and you have a killer combo.

  2. Jason M.

    I think Google will definitely be introducing a smart watch very soon (probably Q3 or Q4 2013). With the Motoactv already in their toolkit it’s a no-brainer. Just build on that base. This is an merging market that seems to be quite promising revenue wise. The Pebble watch and the Basis watch have already created quite a buzz. If these watches can be smart watches with fitness-based capabilities they would cater to almost every niche.

    And speaking about fitness watches….Kevin this is the second article about the Motoactv you wrote that I have read. I’ve been debating between the Nike+ Fuel Band and the Motoactv for over a week now.

    I currently have a FitBit Ultra. Love it and use it when I remember to bring it with me. That’s why I’m looking for a wearable solution and don’t feel like waiting for the FitBit Flex. I’m not an avid runner but I do get out there from time to time in weekly spurts. I’m more so looking for an every day, wearable fitness tracker. But being a tech junkie with an affinity for Android products and enjoy “tinkering” with them, the Motoactv is calling. But would I be better suited with the Fuel Band considering my activity level? Care to opine Kevin? Would appreciate your feedback.

  3. Albucian

    I think a google smart-watch should only display notifications and google now. This way it would be simple to use and still very useful.
    I don’t think it woud be good idea to mess around with apps etc. The point of the watch is that you can rapidly check something. If you want to do something more advanced then just pull up your phone.
    On other possibility would be a tight interaction with the phone, like a second screen where you can remotely control an app.