Wristy Business: The evolution of iWatch

From calculator watches, to smart watches, to intelligent wristbands, the wrist computer has had a storied history.
1 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Dick Tracy's 2-way TV watch

The world's fascination with the gadget watch began in the 1930's, with the introduction of the comic book character Dick Tracy

Tracy was a hard-hitting police detective, outfitted in bright yellow garb and carried among other things, a Two-way wrist communicator that over time also included video capability. 


2 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Pulsar Calculator Watch (1972)

Hamilton Pulsar was a luxury watch manufacturer that was known for its pioneering work in creating the world's first truly digital timepiece in 1970, and was featured in the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die". In 1975 the company introduced the first fully functional calculator watch.

3 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Casio Databank (1980s-current)

In the 1980s, Japanese timepeice manufacturer CASIO introduced the Databank, a LCD watch line that continues to be manufactured to this day. Databanks have had many configurations over the years, including calculator watches, but primarily they have been used for limited PDA-type of functions (Appointments, Contact, Calendar) that we see as common features in today's smartphones.

4 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Microsoft SPOT Watch (2000's)

In the Mid-2000's Microsoft experimented with a 1-way FM broacast radio data service known as MSN Direct

Among the devices to use this service were SPOT watches which were made by various manufacturers. The data broadcast by MSN Direct included localized weather service, news, and traffic reports.

Microsoft shut down MSN Direct in January of 2012.

5 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

IBM OLED Linux Watch (2001)

In the early 2000's, IBM Research experimented with getting the Linux kernel ported to very small microcontroller devices. 

As a proof of concept, IBM built a few Linux watches to demonstrate various technologies, and showed them at various trade expositions. But the design was never commercialized.


6 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

LG GD-910 3G Watch Phone (2009)

At CES 2009, LG Electronics demonstrated the GD-910, the first true 3G phone watch with touchscreen and video calling capabilities, bringing Dick Tracy's 2-way TV phone to reality. It runs on its own proprietary OS.

At almost $1000 and with no data capabilities, the GD-910 is more of a novelty than a practical smart device.

7 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

TikTok and LunaTik watchbands for iPod Nano (2010)

After the 2010-era iPod Nano was introduced, it seemed natural to create a wristband encasement for it to turn the device into a full-blown smartwatch/wrist-mounted media player. 

Design firm MNML created the LunaTik and TikTok bands, and through distribution partnerships managed to sell over 350,000 of these.

While the 2010-era Nano is no longer produced, bands from other companies have been created for the current version, although the solutions are not as elegant given that the current generation Nano is rectangular and larger.


8 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Apple Patent 20130044215 for "Wearable Accessory Device" (2011)

In 2011, Apple filed a patent for a "Wearable Accessory Device", #20130044215.

The device described is a flexible band with an integrated, wrap around display unit, wireless connectivity and kinetic charging mechanism.

While there is no proof any of this will be integrated in Apple products anytime soon, it's definitely an eye opener into future wearable computing developments at the company.


9 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

SONY MN2SW Android Watch (2012)

Released early summer of last year, SONY has the first "Watch companion" released into the wild with its MN2SW, which requires an Android phone with a Bluetooth connection. 

For a review, check out CNET's in-depth look at the device.

10 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Pebble (2013)

Pebble, a new startup company, will soon be offering its low-power, E Ink-based bluetooth watch companion for iOS and Android smartphones in April-May of this year. The device will cost $150. The device contains a motion sensor and can run simple apps that display telemetric-types of output from data coming from connected Smartphones.

11 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

Samsung Altius (2013)

Based on leaked screenshots Samsung appears to be working on a smart watch known as the "Altius". Very little about this device is known and what operating system it runs on. 

It is rumored that Altius will communicate via Bluetooth tethering to an Android smartphone to transmit phone calls or music. 

12 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

"iWatch" conceptual design (2013)

There's been a lot of wild speculation about what Apple's rumored iWatch might look like, and what the device would be capable of. But little of what's been written so far has been grounded in any form of reality. What do we get if we anchor speculation to actual patent applications filed by Apple?

Read Adrian Kingsley-Hughes' article about a conceptual design that was created using known information about Apple's technology and design philosophy.

13 of 13 Jason Perlow/ZDNet

VEABuddy (2014)

France-based VEA Digital is another startup similar to Pebble that is creating a cross-platform smartwatch that includes a color display. The device is slated to cost $250 (if and) when the company begins production and ships in late 2013-early 2014.

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