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samsung-galaxy-gear-smartwatch2.jpgIf you were intrigued by the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch but a bit disappointed that it only worked with one phone - the Note 3 - and not the S4 you splashed the cash on a few months back, we may have some good news.

Cnet is reporting that a Korean news site Daum is suggesting that version two of the phone is in the pipeline and will arrive next year. And among the many enhancements are that it will work with a wider range of phones. The site says that the second iteration of the watch could be unveiled at CES in January

This is not an especially surprising move. It was massively important for Samsung to get there first with the smartwatch ahead of Apple. However by limiting its distribution Samsung could gauge reaction to the watch's launch as well buy a bit of development time before it made the device more widely available.

It is clear that the Gear is nowhere near the finished product. It might have some interesting and innovative features such as the apps and the camera, but I wonder if the Gear is really just a prototype to establish the market sector with the more finished device following next year.

Samsung might also look at the price too. Samsung, like Apple, is keen to lock consumers into sticking with its mobiles and if you buy a watch that works with a certain brand's phone then you are likely to stay with that brand when it comes to an upgrade. So maybe Samsung will reduce that rather aggressive $300 price too.

Here's why the smartwatch battle is so important to both Samsung and Apple.

Now this is rather cool. Not wanting to miss out on a tech bandwagon car makers are jumping in with their own smart watches. Nissan has this little beauty, the Nissan Nismo Concept Watch, which it is offering buyers of its high-end cars.

It links with a smartphone via Bluetooth to offer a mix of standard smartwatch stuff - messaging, heart rate monitoring, etc with information about the Nissan car, including fuel consumption, average speeds etc.

It is rather striking looking device that is available in a trio of designs. It charges via USB and it will run for seven days before it need a recharge.

"Wearable technology is fast becoming the next big thing and we want to take advantage of this innovative technology to make our Nismo Brand more accessible," said Gareth Dunsmore, marketing communications general manager at Nissan Europe.

"On track, Nissan uses the latest biometric training technologies to improve the performance of our Nissan Nismo Athletes and it is this technology we want to bring to our fans to enhance their driving experience and Nismo ownership."

There's no word yet on release date or pricing, but I think this could a be a very hot trend.

IFA 2013: Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch lands

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It's been one of the tech industries worst kept secrets but at IFA 2013 in Berlin, Samsung formally unveiled the Galaxy Gear smartwatch,

Connecting to to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth, it is around the size of a regular watch with a 1.63-inch AMOLED (320 x 320 pixels) touchscreen display and 1.9-megapixel 'Memographer' camera on the side of the device for capturing snaps with a tap. 

Weighing a little under 75g, it provides much of the functionality of an Android device without needing to actually touch your phone. Core to the experience is the voice control, which will allow you to carry out all the usual functions like switching music on, making or receiving calls and sending messages, as well as operating apps. The device is also pre-loaded with Samsung specific apps, specifically targeting health and fitness fans with the inclusion of RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal. 

The Galaxy Gear also serves as a wristwatch and includes several face options that create the opportunity for users to personalise their watch face. It will come preloaded with 10 different clock options and more choices will be downloadable via Samsung Apps.

The Galaxy Gear experience can be further personalised by selecting from six colours that will be available at launch: Jet Black, Mocha Grey, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green (see picture gallery below).

Says Samsung Mobile CEO, JK Shin: "Samsung Galaxy Gear benefits consumers by integrating smart device technology even deeper into their everyday lives, and bridges the gap between the mobile device and fashion worlds to create truly wearable technology.

"Samsung Galaxy Gear frees users from the need to constantly check their smart devices while maintaining connections. It provides what we call "smart freedom" by allowing users to choose how, why, when and where they are connected."

The Samsung Galaxy Gear will be launched in more than 140 countries around the world from September 25th, 2013. Prices yet to be confirmed. 

Meanwhile Sony's rival Smartwatch 2 goes on sale later this month priced £149 (179 Euros), while Apple, Google and Microsoft - which this week acquired Nokia's mobile phone business - are among those rumoured to be working on similar devices.

A recent report by research analysts Canalys claims 500,000 smart watches will be sold this year, with that figure rising to 5 million in 2014. At IFA 2013, the Korean company also announced a new Galaxy Note 3 "phablet" and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet to rival the iPad. 

RELATED ARTICLE: IFA 2013, the five hottest gadgets to look out for

Article originally published on TechDigest here.

samsung-galaxy-gear-smartwatch-cover.jpgAfter all that talk of the iWatch it appears that Samsung is going to get there first with its Galaxy Gear smart watch. We don't know a huge amount about the watch at present except to say that it will team up wirelessly via Bluetooth with Galaxy mobiles and offer truncated versions of the stuff that you do on those handsets, So alerts for incoming calls, text messages, Twitter and facebook updates and plenty more. It is also likely to have some dedicated features built in too and expect an app rush as developers come up with innovative add-ons for it.

As for specs we are expecting a 2.5-inch screen, dual-core processor, sensors for fitness tracking and some kind of camera which should link directly with the phone.

One thing that won't be happening is a flexible display - so if you want to get an idea of what it might look like check out the recent Sony smartwatches.

galaxy_gear.jpgBig, big news, Samsung has confirmed that it will launch its smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, on Sept. 4th at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. It will also unveil the latest incarnation of its top-end Phablet the Galaxy Note 3.

The date for the launch plus the details were given by Lee Young-hee, VP of Samsung's mobile business, to The Korea Times.

Yet how innovative will the watch be? For starters it will have no flexible display. Here's what Lee said.

"We will be introducing a new wearable concept device called Galaxy Gear at our own event in Berlin on Sept. 4. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry."

Lee also added that the company has more wearable gadgets in the pipeline.

"We have intellectual properties for patents related to the next wearable devices. Those are concepts for future products," she added.

So, it could be that the watch is little different from the type of watches we have seen so far from Sony and smaller companies like Pebble.

We will find out soon enough.

Images of what it might look like from T3 here.

valev.jpgLG's Bulgarian head of mobile communications, Dimitar Valev has been talking about what the company has lined up for the future, and unless the Korean maker is going to solely focus on the Bulgarian market there are some exciting products in store.

In an interview with Bulgarian website Valev confirmed that a tablet and smartwatch are on their way but also that LG will have a Firefox OS phone on its books by the end of 2014. He did clarify this by adding that it was dependent on how the Firefox OS which debuted recently on the ZTE Open fared, but so far the response for that mobile has been phenomenal.

As for the tablet, there have been lots of rumours of a 10 inch tablet from LG recently, and the smartwatch has long been assumed to be an LG project as they seek to take on Apple and Samsung in that market. Valev did let on that the watch will use flexible LCD technology.

samwatch5.jpgOver the past few months we have seen lots of mock ups of what the Apple iWatch might look like, but as for the Samsung watch, well not so much. Stepping manfully into the breach is website who asked their patent and trademark insider to help them devise what the Samsung Smartwatch may look like.

We will have to take them at their word that they have done their home work, but we do know that Samsung has filed patents for the watch in both the US and South Korea.

The patent says the following, which admittedly isn't that much

"Wearable digital electronic devices in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle capable of providing access to the Internet and for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages. It would be used for the wireless receipt, storage and/or transmission of data and messages and for keeping track of or managing personal information; smart phones; tablet computers; portable computers."

yanko-iwatch.jpg We are only months away from an almighty battle for the smart watch market. Apple is rumoured to be beefing up its iWatch team, Samsung is working on a similar device and Sony has been in the market for a while with its range of watches. Might however the smart watch be a small blip on the road to something more meaningful like smart textiles or maybe even smart implants?

We spoke to Oliver Stokes, Principle of Design and Innovation at agency PDD who has worked with a number of clients on wearables and new technologies and especially how humans can interact with them in a natural and seamless way. He has some forthright view as on smart watches but thinks the days when get 'chipped' might be a few years away yet.

Do you think there is going to be a market for smart watches? Or will they just be a intermediary device with a short shelf life?

The whole concept of the smart watch is an interesting one. We've seen previous attempts through products such as the LG GD910 or Sony LiveView SmartWatch, neither of which in my understanding have seen wide adoption. So it's unclear what a potential Apple or Samsung offer could bring that would inspire people to become more involved. It would seem that much of the functionality is focused on the device becoming effectively a second screen to your smart phone and that I believe is not sufficient, there has to be a greater insight to pull people in. Certainly if Apple were to launch a fully flexible, wrap around screen that we've seen in some hypothetical concept renders online then that might 'persuade' me to invest!


Do you think that there is a type of wearable gadget that will succeed in the long run?

I feel for true 'wearables' to succeed in any category we as consumers need something that is more naturally fitting with our bodies than a clunky box. The product should also be part of an eco-system that can provide sufficient value to us so we're not moved to forget it.

Explain why you think smart textiles will be more successful that wearable tech? Is it all about the fact that we have to wear clothes, but don't need to wear glasses or watches?

There is something more discreet about a smart textile compared to an object (Watch / Glasses). Therefore I could see this being an easier category to adopt for us consumers in the social context - if the garment / product is able to provide simple feedback, process tasks without being impacting others then that is potential a more compelling offer.

In the reality of today, an object that you need to interact with and is overt to others, such as Google Glass is really pushing people to rethink about their self-image / body language. We as humans are used to intuitively or through association understanding the cues of body language and interaction. Whether that is facial expressions or the tell-tale white cable that we've grown to associate with someone listening to music or talking hands free. We have learnt and built these cues, adapting them to social context, but the reprogramming of this language to suit voice control or the act of 'staring' with Google glass may require greater time to become the 'new normal'.


Are smart textiles mainly about health monitoring and fitness? What are the more consumer focused/fun uses for them?

The great rise in sensor technology and reduction in price, plus the natural role of a smart textile in apparel lends itself more naturally to health and fitness - it's an obvious link. But as technologies develop we can see that the role or opportunities for smart textiles start to broaden. Imagine in the future a fabric that could change colour or pattern and the impact that could have on fashion (both visually and commercially) - concepts like that would really start to push smart textiles away from just monitoring / reporting on your physical performance

Might textiles also be an intermediary technology as we one day are embedded with chips in our bodies? What might need to occur to make this happen?

'Implantables' have been around for over 10 years, with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) having approved certain RFID technologies back in 2003/4. So the idea of having some implanted is not that new or outlandish in certain sectors especially when you think of how long pacemakers have been around. But to imbed a technology for consumer application opens up a whole new area of challenges and opportunities. Already 'life hackers' are self-imbedding RFID tags in their hands so they can automatically open their car or house. But when you consider the rapid pace of technology at present, that I change my phone every year and could change every three months if I were to hop brands to keep up-to-date. Then you start to wonder if 'injectables', 'implantables' that may need 'upgrading' each year is realistic in the short term. 'Ingestables' on the other hand could be a different again. As Motorola presented at D11, the passcode pill that lasts day to authenticate your life is potentially interesting as are sub dermal circuit boards that dissolve over time. So on that basis, maybe there is an opportunity for these products to have a limited life span. Ultimately the age of the human cyborg is maybe still many social debates and years away!

I am particularly interested in how smart textiles can interact with machines. is there an example of how they might work with say cars in the future?

I'm not aware of any major projects that involve smart textiles in cars, but the BMW GINA light visionary model of 2008 or 'shape shifting car' is an interesting concept that could be combined with a smart textile to allow shape and colour change (Exterior and Interior). The automotive sphere is certainly one where smart textiles could play an interesting role once they become more developed.


Can you give me a timespan for when you think smart textiles will be mainstream?

I see many programmes in the public domain that are exploring smart textiles and I'm sure there are many more behind closed doors, but I would propose that smart textiles are probably still 5 years away from real commercialisation

Are there going to be very real savings in health care using smart textiles?

Without surmising an application, it's tricky to know what benefits they could offer. But certainly healthcare has commonly been an early adopter of new technologies in terms of investment to develop and application. So once we understand more about how they could be applied I'm sure developments of smart textiles in health care will come.

Who are you working with for PDD on smart textiles?

PDD has a history of working with companies across a number of sectors on wearables and other new technologies. But I'm not able to disclose who we are working for and in what areas due to strict confidentiality ethics. You can see a sample of who we have worked with and some examples of our work on the website.

FT hints at issues with Apple's iWatch

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There's an interesting snippet in the FT today which reports that Apple is in the midst of a hiring spree as it seeks to put together a team to build the company's much vaunted iWatch.

It is reading between the lines but that does suggest that the iWatch is no way imminent and probably won't arrive until next year.

It also means that the company is clearly taking the iWatch very seriously indeed, with FT believing that there are now 100 staff in Cupertino working on the project.

The Financial Times' sources have stated the current hiring spree is because Apple's product development teams have run into "hard engineering problems that they've not been able to solve."

The iWatch is clearly crucial to the future of Apple and if it takes time to get it right then that makes a lot of sense.

sonysmartwatch1.jpg-jpgSamsung and LG have Smartwatches in the pipeline and Apple is rumoured to have one up its sleeve too. But there is one high profile maker that already has a Smartwatch on its books and that's Sony. And it looks like the Japanese company is about to undertake a major refresh of its intelligent timepiece too.

The company has pretty much confirmed that it will have a new Smartwatch on Twitter with the product set to debut at the Mobile Asia Expo 2013 show that runs from June 26 to 28.

It will be a replacement for the $100 SmartWatch MN2SW, which received mixed reviews when it was launched.

According to Cnet the new version has some serious tweaks. It will boast a larger capacitive touch screen, be minimally water-resistant, run a version of Android and have the look and feel of the company's successful Xperia smartphones. Xperia smartphones).

The previous model, the MN2SW, boasted a solid line of features (Facebook/messaging alerts, music control etc) but only worked with a select number of Android handsets. It will be interesting to see if the new watch will work with Samsung, LG and HTC mobiles as well as Sony ones.

It will be fascinating to see what the watch is like and to imagine what type of rabbits both Apple and Samsung will need to pull out of the hat to make their Smartwatches stand out over this one.

mutewatch.jpgI must admit to being rather taken by the very retro, but in a futurist kind of way if that's possible, Mutewatch when it debuted a couple of years back. This was very stylish minimalist watch that boasts a hidden touch screen and a silent vibrating alarm.

You basically had to touch the screen and then swipe through its various options - clock, alarm timer etc. It was elegant intuitive and loads of fun. It really didn't feel like watch to be honest.

So it is great that the company is back with a trio of new versions of the Mutewatch in Nova Purple, Indigo Blue and Ivy Green. They retail for £199 and are available on from June 13, and in retail stores around the world from the beginning of July.

According to Mutewatch CEO, Mai-Li Hammargren, "The main goal of Mutewatch is to create simple tools with a retro feel, that help people manage the overflow of information we experience each day. Our aim has also been to create a pioneering, iconic design inspired by Rubik's cube and Swedish minimalism. After the introduction of the original colours, we are excited to create new products that our fans been asking for since we launched in 2011."

kisai intoxicated.jpgThe Tokyoflash mob have always come up with some fascinating watches - mostly because of their peculiar way of telling you the time. This one however might be the company's oddest one yet.

Called the Kisai Intoxicated, it is as it sounds a watch that features a blood alcohol, sensor that will tell you how drunk you are.

To make it work you open the sensor cap and press the alcohol button to start the test. Once the sensor has warmed up, you blow for 5 seconds and wait for the watch to give an on screen reading.

The display on the right of the screen shows 10 different levels of blood alcohol content. A green display showing 0.00‰ means you're sober. A yellow display showing between 0.41 and 0.60‰ means you're buzzing. A red display showing 0.61‰ or above means you're drunk!

I am not entirely sure how useful it might be as evidence should you have a run in with police officer, but it is fun little addition to a very stylish watch which is made of stainless steel, sports an LCD display with colored backlighting and has time, date, alarm and is charged via USB.

It is available at the special release price of $99 (€76, £64) until Friday June 21st at 4pm(Japan time).

Next week Apple diehards and fan people gather together for its annual WWDC bash. It comes at a very interesting time for Apple with its iPhone range in dire need of a refresh and its tablets under attack from all sides.

However, unless there is a massive surprise, don't expect new iPhones and iPads next week. There are ongoing rumours that the company has had some production problems with several elements of its 2013 range and that we won't hear product announcements until later in the Summer, or maybe even the Autumn.

So what can we expect?

Apple's iWatch is of course the worst kept secret in the tech world. Yet no Apple execs have acknowledged its existence. Well not until now..

Bill Campbell, Apple board member and Silicon Valley veteran, gave a talk to employees at Intuit, the software firm to which he acts as chairman where he shared his views on wearable tech. The speech was recorded by Business Week here.

In his talk Campbell stated that there were "a lot of things going on with the application of technology to really intimate things. When you start to think about glasses or watches, they become as intimate as the cell phone was."

Campbell had already mentioned Google Glasses in his speeches, but watches!? Is an Apple board member seriously going to big up a product format that the company is not going to be involved in but its deadly rival Samsung has already announced plans to launch into?

Thought not...

I read the note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster earlier this week in which he plots Apple's upcoming year.

It revolves around tweaks to existing products - iPhone 5S, a cheaper iPhone and an upgraded iPad and iPad mini.

Munster believes that Apple will leave the innovation until the end of the year when it will unveil its core new product - the iWatch.

If Munster is right then I think that the iWatch could be a very important project for Apple this year and here is why they, along with Samsung, LG and lots of start ups, are eagerly eyeing up the smart watch market.

1 It is a market with huge potential

The phone may have replaced the watch for many people but it is still a massive market. If you are going to break into a new market then it is best to break into one (and even better innovate) where there is already a huge amount of business.

2 Smartphone sales are flattening

One of the reasons why Apple shares have tanked a little recently is that there is a fear that smartphone sales are starting to flatten. If you live in the western world and you wanted a smartphone chances are you would have bought one by now. The future is all about upgrades. With sales starting to slow to keep investors on board Apple, and to a lesser degree Samsung, need to be looking at a new market.

3 Locking people into platforms

With the sales of smartphones slowing it is imperative that Apple doesn't hemorrhage customers to Samsung and vice versa. It is important to lock people into using an operating system so that when it comes to an upgrade they don't desert your brand. If you create a watch that only works with one kind of platform and someone invests in it, then they are even more likely to stay with that platform in the future. The interesting question is whether the Samsung watch will be Android only. In theory they could produce a watch that worked with Apple iOS and Windows handsets.


4 Possibility of new rivals establishing themselves

If we accept that the smart watch is going to be an important area moving forwards - as is the wearable gadget sphere - then Samsung and Apple both need to watch their backs.

They could face all kinds of competition in the space. Off the top of my head - Nike and other sports brands could deliver watches that work with handsets in a similar way to the Samsung/Apple offerings, but that major on fitness/health items.

Casio already has a smart watch on the go and has innovated in this space several times before. Who know what they have up their sleeves. Sony could produce a watch that majors on entertainment features as could Amazon. Then of course there are the watches that are onsale already from Pebble etc some of which are very good.

If Apple and Samsung want to dominate the smart watch space they need to move quickly

5 A need to innovate

As I mentioned in the intro this is essential, especially for Apple. With this year dominated by upgrade products it needs to show that it can still create something magical and new to wow the cynics and give its fan people something to brag about.

Samsung could in theory drive a road through Apple's 2013 strategy by getting there first with an impressive smart watch. Imagine if the watch went on sale before the iWatch, was better specified and more stylish and worked with iPhones as well as Android devices. Apple could look like an also ran.

Conversely if Apple can get the smart watch right and deliver somethign that is significantly in advance of what Samsung offers it will reclaim its crown as consumer electronics' key innovator.

Samsung watch.JPG

Here's an interesting prototype from British maker Plastic Logic. The company, which these days specialises in high quality flexible plastic displays, have been parading a prototype of a watch that may give us a few clues as to what might be Apple's sleeve with its iWatch.

As you can see from the picture the flexible display means that the watch can curve around the owner's wrist - something that Apple is rumoured to also be working on. The maker also claims that the plastic which houses the screen is virtually indestructibile.

The prototype uses an E-Ink screen (like some of the Kindle range) which means that it can show any data that is fed to it, yet at the same time is low power, saving on battery life. In theory the maker claims that you could integrate Bluetooth into the device and then pair it up with a mobile phone and the watch could run for at least a week before it needed recharging.

Plastic Logic envisages that people could use the watch to make and receive calls, check info like the weather etc and offer other standard smart watch features,

So would you fancy one of these it it teamed up with your iPhone?


So it is official. Samsung have confirmed to Bloomberg that it is working on a watch that will work with its range of smartphones.

And apparently it isn't just a knee jerk reaction to recent gossip emanating from Apple HQ that it will, launch an iWatch sometime this year.

"We've been preparing the watch product for so long," Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, said during an interview for Bloomberg 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."

samsung-iwatch-top.jpgHowever at the moment there is no news on what the watch might look like and what it might do.

Interestingly though analysts are already suggesting that Samsung will have a big advantage over its Apple rival in at least one area

Samsung may be able to undercut Apple on price because the Korean company makes its own displays and chips, said Will Stofega, program director at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts. Samsung also is the world's largest maker of TVs and memory chips.

So this year's big tech battle is starting to take shape.

Buddy's super skinny smart watch

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Another day, another smart watch. This one looks a bit different from the rest though with as it seems more flat. In fact the maker says that its thickness of 8mm makes it as much as 30% more skinny than some of its rivals.

It is called the Buddy and does everything you'd expect it to, namely displaying emails, text messages, GPS, phone calls, social media notifications, controlling your music and much more.

The screen is also tactile which makes a change from some watches so you can control it by tapping it.

The watch works with iOS, Windows (which is also quite unusual) and Android phones, has a pretty impressive 8gig of memory on board. Its battery lasts 10 days or 2 weeks standby and it is water resistant to three metres.

The only downside is that its not available just yet. It can only be purchased via Indiegogo, and you'll get the watch delivered to you in August. If you invest $150 will get you a watch which apparently has a retail value of $249.

More info here.


Heres' an interesting new addition to the range of smart watches that may go on sale soon.

Smartfitty is an inexpensive-ish (it should retails for around £80) watch that its maker hope will be available in September 2013. What set it apart is that it has two key features. Firstly, unlike some rival watches, it has a responsive touch screen. This really does make watch easier to control!

Secondly it has been optimised to appeal to fitness freaks who want to track everything from steps taken though to hours slept.

So the basics then... It is a standard smart watch which can be teamed up with the iPhone or Android handsets via Bluetooth and deliver the usual stuff - notifications for calls, email, text messages, iMessges, calendar reminders, Facebook Twitter etc.

You can also customise the watch's fascia too.

But it pairs that up with a whole raft of fitness features including sleep cycle tracking, running speed, calories burned on your run etc And there are apparently a load more to come too.

Also interesting is an integrated security feature, so if you are concerned about the environment you are running in the Smartfitty has an emergency option which when activated sends an alert and your GPS location to your SOS contact list.

The company behind the watch are also encouraging tech heads to make apps for the device so if it takes off then all manner of extra features could be on board soon.

It comes in two versions- one for blokes that is brushed stainless steel casing with black leather strap and one for women that has White ceramic casing with white leather strap.

If you are ultra sporty you can also opt for a rubber strap.

The watch is currently on Indiegogo and the company are looking for funds to deliver the project. Here's hoping that it makes the cut as it looks like a stylish and smart watch.

More on smart watches and the Apple iWatch here.

Another Apple iWatch design for you to swoon over

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Personally I have not had a great experience of smart watches, they seem fiddly to set up and tricky to use (though admittedly I haven't seen this one yet). In short as a concept they are just begging for a company like Apple, or Samsung, to create something that not only looks beautiful but works in an intuitive way too.

There's plenty about smartwatches and how Apple might approach them here. What we do know though is that Apple is experimenting with some innovative bendy glass and that appears to have been the inspiration behind this gorgeous mock up from Yanko Designs.

In addition to the bendy glass, its design is clearly inspired by the iPhone 5 and note that apple trademark single button.

There's more here along with the words of the designer Esben Oxholm.

For more on the iWatch and its rivals go here.

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