Watch it! That thing on your wrist could replace your phone

31st August 2014
Watch it!  That thing on your wrist could replace your phone
Smarten your wrist watch!

Smart watches are more than  a phone accessory: they could soon replace the phone -- and Spice  launches a budget model that shows you how
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore,  Serptember 1 2014: Eat your heart out Dick Tracy! The   comic strip   police  detective's  trade mark icon for thirty years from   January 1946 --  his "Two-Way Wrist Radio"  -- has  moved from  fiction to fact: Anyone with four thousand rupees to spare today,  can outdo Dick and  flaunt  his or  her, own  personal communicator. Tech pundits say 2014 is the Year of the Smart Watch.
A dozen  companies -- both watch makers and phone makers -- are currently engaged in a sangam or confluence  of these twin technologies and are  racing to bring their products to market. 
Last week on the  same day, two  Korean  giants unveiled their latest smart watches:  Samsung's  "Gear S", the latest iteration of its  wearable accessory to  the handset, is for the first time, a standalone device, capable of working, independent of  a mobile phone.  LG's "G Watch R"   revives the classic look-and-feel of a circular  steel wristwatch: Both these smart wearables will be available only  towards the end of the year
There are swirling rumours,  that Apple will launch its own  wearable phone solution,  along with its  new  iPhone model on September 9. From the other end of this merging market, Timex  has just  launched a WiFi-enabled wristwatch, the "Ironman One GPS". 
On the application front, Japan Airlines has equipped its boarding gate staff with smart  watches so that they can keep track of  passengers'  whereabouts, while both their hands are busy.  And aero solutions leader SITA, has just released an app  so that   passengers can receive boarding passes on their smart watch and board flights  with a scan of their of their  watch dials.
Amidst these developments, it is entirely in character with the way things are happening in the mobile business,  that   an Indian  enterprise -- Spice Retail -- should launch, arguably, the  world's most affordable stand-alone smart watch-phone.
The Smart Pulse M-9010  has a 4 cm  touch screen and packs in a 0.3 megapixel VGA camera with video; a torch; dual SIM slots, an audio player, FM Radio, alarm and calculator. The internal memory is enough to store some 300 numbers, but you can add an 8 GB memory card.  Connectivity is dual channel GSM with GPRS ( a bit wobbly)   and WAP. You can receive voice and SMS but understandably, no email.
It can be used as a standalone phone-- there is a built in  mike and speaker -- but it is better to attach earphones. A Bluetooth wireless  headset is supplied free, along with a two extra wristbands.  The watch can also be   paired with any Android phone via Bluetooth in which case it can serve as an incoming call alert and a means of taking the call without pulling out your main phone. You can't receive voice and data at the same time and I found you have to set up for one or the other.  
Remember this is not -- unlike some of the upcoming smart watches from the biggies -- an Android device, but one that seems to run on Java. This means for  installing things like Bluetooth you have to download the  special Spice software. But I'm not complaining.  For an amazingly small asking price of Rs  3999 ( exclusively from HomeShop 18), I got  a great  smart watch experience. It's not going to compete with  my full fledged smart phone  but sometime, somewhere, if my hands are full  and I need to communicate  while on the hoof,  this dinky little  device will  make me Dick Tracy.