Smart Watch Announcements – Qualcomm’s Toq and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear

We posted about the rumored iWatch from Apple a while back, but today Apple was beat to the punch with both Qualcomm and Samsung announcing smart watches today. The smart watch movement could mean a lot for mobile health.

Qualcomm’s smart watch offering is called the Toq and isn’t planned to go on sell until the middle of next month. Plus, Qualcomm calls it a technology demonstration instead of a commercial endeavor. That means they’re looking to partners to carry this torch. Qualcomm isn’t turning into a consumer electronics company. Here’s AllThingsD’s description of the smart watch:

It features several different watch faces, including one that matches the time with upcoming calendar appointments, and another that displays both time and weather information. The Toq can also control the phone’s music player, as well as display text messages and send one of several preset replies. Clearly designed as a companion to a smartphone, the watch settings are controlled from an app that runs on an Android smartphone.

Watch owners can also get other types of Android notifications that would normally flash on their phone screen. Users can decide which apps’ notifications are shown on the watch. Qualcomm will also make available a developer tool kit that will let interested companies create their own “applets” for the watch.

At the same time, the combination of the Mirasol display and other power-saving features means that the device can be always-on (there’s no on-off switch) and still get several days of use between charges.

I think this is best described as a second screen for your smart phone. Although, it’s a second screen that’s always on thanks to the Qualcomm Mirasol display technology.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch will launch on Sept 25 in more than 140 countries and available worldwide in October. Here’s AllThingsD’s description of the device:

Designed to be a smartphone companion, the Android-based wearable features a stainless steel frame with a 1.63-inch, 320 by 320 pixel touchscreen and rubber straps that come in six different colors, including orange, yellow and white.

For now it appears that the Galaxy Gear is designed to work only with the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition tablet, which were also announced. Once connected via Bluetooth, the watch can alert you to incoming texts and emails. A feature called “Smart Relay” also mirrors what you’re seeing on your smartphone to the watch.

With a built-in mic, you can make and receive phone calls and draft messages, create calendar appointments and more using Samsung’s S Voice command system. The watch’s strap also has an integrated 1.9-megapixel camera. But before you get excited about living out your dream as a spy, the camera makes a shutter noise that can’t be disabled.

That’s a huge problem that the Galaxy Gear only works with the latest Galaxy Note products. I imagine this will change once Samsung is able to push out an update to the Samsung S3 and S4’s. If they can’t do that, then this device is really going to suffer. The battery life on the device is estimated at 25 hours and will launch with more than 70 compatible apps including the RunKeeper app.

The most exciting part of both of these announcements is that we’re just getting started with the Smart Watch technology. I’m not sure how this is going to evolve, but I love the always on feature of a smart watch. I also love the idea of it being a second screen. Plus, with an accelerometer on the watch and likely more bio sensors to come, there’s a great opportunity for mobile health apps.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.