It may not be able to carry the clubs like a caddie but a new “smart watch” can help a golfer find his range on the course, and its makers are taking a swing at the global market as part of a new trend in wearable computing.
The smart watch, on display at the Computex trade fair in Taipei, comes amid rumours of an Apple “iWatch” device to be worn on the wrist, and amid ongoing hype around Google’s pioneering Glass.
Developed by Taiwanese company Sonostar Inc, it can access the layouts of 30,000 golf courses around the world and can also be used by people when they jog or cycle to record distance travelled and calories burned.
Apple chief Tim Cook has forecast that there will soon be “tons of companies playing” in the wearable computing sector, with the frenzy sparked after Google announced the development of its high-tech eyewear.
The five-day tech extravaganza in the Taiwanese capital has provided an opportunity for lesser-known brands to get in on the act, and like the Glass, the wrist-worn caddie can be wirelessly tethered to a mobile phone.
Linked to an Android or Apple device over Bluetooth, the smart watch allows users to read emails, browse social media sites, and read ebooks. All of this is done using a 1.73-inch e-ink paper touchscreen, which like the Kindle display is easy to view in the sunshine.
“We are optimistic about the demand of this new smart watch, particularly in markets like Japan, the United States and Australia where golfing is popular,” said Sonostar spokeswoman Marie Liu.
The company, which already sells handheld GPS devices for golfers, said the watch is set to hit the market in the third quarter with a price tag of $179.
“This is a new technology. I want to wear a smart phone on my wrist. I don’t want this notebook,” said Stephen Hurford, who works for a London-based cloud computing firm, as he visited what is Asia’s biggest IT fair.
But some analysts are less optimistic about wearable technology.
“If I had to make a prediction I’d say Google Glass is a Segway for the face,” tech author Edward Tenner told AFP earlier this week, referring to a personal transport device that flopped after great initial hype.
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