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Technology Limitations Hold Back Samsung's Galaxy Gear Smart Watch

Lux Research

Bulky form factor, poor battery life, and questionable utility hobble today’s smart watches – innovations in batteries and displays are needed to make them truly functional

BOSTON, MA – September 4, 2013 – Today Samsung unveiled its new Galaxy Gear smart watch, making it the first major smartphone OEM to enter this swelling segment. However, for smart watches to become more than gimmicky accessories for smartphones, they will need new technologies to enable slimmer form factors and innovative displays, according to Lux Research.

With a rigid, OLED display, the Galaxy Gear offers only about a day of runtime from its small 0.3 Ah battery, presenting a problem for many users – and the display and resulting battery demands have led to a bulky form factor.  Moreover, to access the burgeoning consumer health device segment, the Gear would need to offer monitoring of various vital signs – heart rate, sweat, and skin temperature – in a much more comfortable, sleek design.

“Samsung has worked quickly to plant its stake in the ground with the Galaxy Gear, beating rivals like Apple and Google to market, but this first generation product hasn't cracked the smart watch code," said Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst in mobile energy. “These devices remain glorified smartphone accessories, and new technologies are needed to make them into practical stand-alone products.”

For smart watches to evolve into ubiquitous devices, Lux Research projects that innovation in energy storage, displays, touch screens, haptics, sensors, and power electronics will be needed to enable the functionality users need.  “Today’s lithium-ion battery technology may suffice for tablets and smartphones, but developers have to make these batteries five to ten times smaller to fit inside a smart watch. Developers like Samsung will need to commercialize disruptive technologies like silicon battery anodes and flexible battery packaging," explained Laslau.