Redefining what a smartwatch can do

“Nine months ago, I never thought I would say this, but it never leaves my wrist,” said John Galvin, referring to his 51 mm Garmin Quatix 6X Solar.

Mr. Galvin, 38, is a lifelong analog watch enthusiast who wears one Casio G-Shock with traditional dials from childhood. Then his girlfriend surprised him with a Garmin watch last Christmas. “I haven’t even crossed the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Quatix can do, but it makes me a believer in the world of smartwatches,” said Mr. Galvin.

As the captain of a 70-foot Viking sport-fishing yacht, Mr. Galvin spends his days in the Atlantic, spending time between Nantucket and Cape Cod in the summer and the South Beach area of ​​Miami in the winter. Working as a private captain for the past 14 years, Mr. Galvin prides himself on running the most technologically advanced vessels possible. “Now I have all the electronics on my wrist with the push of a button,” he says.

The smartwatch category has been around for less than a decade, but as its sales expand, manufacturers including Apple, Garmin and Suunto have been redefining what a watch should look like. Smart can do – from operating a boat to changing your car’s lighting.

The three models in Garmin’s Quatix line come preloaded with apps for workouts and contactless payments. They range in price from $699 to $1,149 and offer some advancements in deeper, more consistent connectivity.

“It’s called the James Bond feature,” said David Dunn, senior director of marine business at Garmin.

“You can steer the boat with your watch,” he added. “There is no other marine manufacturer that can do what we do and hook it up directly to marine electronics.”

The Autopilot Control app, which comes pre-loaded on the watch, can be connected to a compatible plotter and then used to maintain a specific GPS route and to view real-time data such as speed, depth, rpm and water temperature.

Mr. Dunn said other preload options include what the company calls SailAssist, racing aids like countdown timer and virtual starting line, and control of the onboard entertainment system.

The expansion of smartwatch use through connectivity is not limited to beachwear. Earlier this year, the second generation of Mercedes-Benz User Experience, an information and entertainment system, was introduced on the automaker’s new S-Class sedan, and in it, a unique algorithm The right is called Energizing Coach.

Users are required to download the Mercedes Me Connect app from the Apple or Android app stores to compatible Garmin smartwatches, including the branded Mercedes-Benz Venu model.

When the app is linked to the S-Class’ system, the smartwatch sends the user’s heart rate, stress level and sleep quality data to the car. An algorithm then uses the information to suggest changes such as the color of the internal graphical display, light intensity, temperature and sound levels, as well as recommend massage settings for the chair. .

“One of the areas where automakers are most interested is in using the watch as a digital key,” said Kip Dondlinger, Garmin automotive planning and design lead. people unlock or start their car using the watch.”

And later this year, Kansas-based Garmin is expected to offer a branded watch designed to unlock car doors, among other functions, to Geely, the company. Chinese cars own Volvo, Lotus and Polestar.

Garmin isn’t the only watch brand or tech company investing in digital car keys. Apple has been working on digital key adoption with the Car Connectivity Consortium, a multidisciplinary organization that develops solutions from smartphones to cars. The BMW Group became the first to use it in 2021. The Digital Key currently only works on Apple iPhones (using iOS 13.6 or later) and is available on select BMW models. as of March 2020.

Apple has also been working to streamline commuting and living at home.

In September, the company announced that Arizona and Georgia would be the first states to allow users to upload their driver’s license or state identification information to Apple Wallet on their iPhone or Apple Watch, and six other states will soon follow. And the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says the feature will be accepted at security checkpoints at certain airports.

Later this fall, Apple said, it will also introduce a digital home key, allowing the Apple Watch to be used in place of a physical key and for contactless check-ins at Hyatt hotels worldwide. .

Smart watches are also being used to connect people, rather than just gadgets.

As a long-distance runner, Brian Wortley said he considers trail running a solo sport. “I don’t know many other people who want to run 30 miles at once,” he said.

But “the most important thing when participating in trail running is seeing what other people are doing and how they are creating and connecting certain routes,” said Mr. Wortley, 32. “That’s where community comes.”

After hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012, Mr. Wortley said he developed a passion for endurance sports and the equipment that goes with them. “I studied Suunto and never really looked back,” he said.

Suunto, which started in Finland 85 years ago as a field compass company, now produces sports watches, diving products and compasses.

Mr. Wortley bought a Suunto Ambit 1 in 2012, switched to an Ambit 2 and then bought a Suunto 9 Baro. A resident of York, Me., Mr. Wortley said he has relied on his watch as a lifeline because most of his runs are in wooded areas. A feature called breadcrumb trails, introduced by Suunto in 2018, allows him to retrace his steps should he lose service; Storm alarms measure barometric pressure and issue warnings if severe weather is approaching.

In other ways, the lifeline comparison is more intangible. “I ran routes, but didn’t cross paths with someone in endurance sports until we connected digitally,” Mr. Wortley said.

Markus Kemetter, product manager at Suunto, says the company’s Suunto 7 watches are equipped with heat maps, which “show the brightest temperatures where most people do sports.” “The difference between us and anyone else is that we have it for 20 different sports, from outdoor swimming to cross-country skiing, around the globe.”

Mr Kemetter notes that Suunto has about one million contributing users to the heatmap, which made its debut on the watch in February 2020.

“When you’re walking briskly over rocky and super-rooted terrain, and running anywhere from 10 to 15 hours, there’s not always room for error,” Mr. Wortley said. All my data is on my watch and the data is really important to me”. Redefining what a smartwatch can do

Fry Electronics Team

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