Companies like Samsung, Google, and Apple are betting that consumers will want to wear internet-connected watches and computerized glasses.
But there are several reasons people aren’t flocking to buy those devices just yet.
They’re expensive, some of them don’t look very nice, and they constantly need to be charged. Plus, in most cases, you need to have your phone with you to even get them to work properly.
These are all issues that device makers need to solve, as Intel CFO Stacy Smith reiterated when speaking with Business Insider on Thursday.
But there’s one core element that needs to be improved if we want to get more battery life out of future smart watches, according to Smith.
“The real technology that you’ve got to solve on battery in my opinion is GPS,” Smith said.
GPS tracking sucks out much more battery life than powering a colour touch screen, Smith says. But, smartwatches need to be able to track your location just like your phone does in order to make the most of the apps you use.
“Having that location tracking is important,” he said, citing examples like being offered a coupon by an app that knows you’re standing in front of a specific store.
Intel is betting that its new Curie system-on-a-chip will eventually solve that problem for wearable gadgets. Curie is a small component the size of a button that includes sensors such as a pedometer. It doesn’t have GPS built in yet, but Smith says it’s possible.
“That’s important, and we’ll get there,” he said.
Wearable devices from Google, Motorola, and even Apple have already been criticised for poor battery life for reasons other than GPS support. Recording video would drain Google Glass’ battery pretty quickly, and reviewers slammed the Moto 360’s battery life when it was released in September even though it doesn’t have GPS built in (Motorola has since improved its battery life through an update).
The Apple Watch hasn’t even been released yet, but reports that it may not even last for a full day have already stirred some complaints in the tech community.
Anything short of all-day battery life for wearables, especially watches, is unacceptable, according to Smith.
“If these things don’t last for a full day — not an eight-hour day, a full day — they’re not going to get significant consumer pickup,” he said.