Collecting the data for a SmartWatch infographic

The SmartWatch is one of the biggest new tech trends in 2013. It’s all the buzz on the tech blogs and was notable enough to make  Mary Meeker’s KPCB Internet Trends 2013 report. A quick check on Google Insights will reveal the meteoric rise in popularity of search terms related to smart watches.

A first rough sketch of my smartwatch infographic

A first rough sketch of my smartwatch infographic

But what is a smartwatch, what makes it one of the hottest tech topics, why would anyone want one, and why are so many big companies like, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung etc in a race to get their own version of a smartwatch on your wrist? These are all great questions deserving of a visual explanation so I’ve been planning to create a SmartWatch infographic. Forbes published a useful smartwatch infographic last month, but what I have in mind would cover the “why” and “how” of smartwatches more than theirs does.

What many people don’t realize is that good infographics take time to research, find relevant information, figure out what the most salient points are, and determine the interesting story. It should be more than throwing a few facts and some visuals together in a colorful digital poster and calling it an [infographic].

With that in mind, I thought I’d share my research information for creating this infographic. This information may be a bit rough and unpolished, but if you’re interested in SmartWatches it may still be of interest to you. What follows is information I think would be relevant in explaining smart watches to the general public, along with some commentary on why it’s relevant.

Why a Smartwatch?
The infographic needs to have an introduction at the beginning to introduce and provide context. This is the ‘why’ of the explanation.

Apple Keynote & Microsoft PowerPoint are great of quick layout mockups.

Apple Keynote & Microsoft PowerPoint are great of quick layout mockups.

As a society, we’ve just gotten used to smartphones becoming an integral part of our lives, providing all-the-time online access, and now the never-ending march of technology progress brings us a new “smart” gadget to infiltrate our lives. But why would we want a smart watch? What would it do that our smartphones can’t?

If nothing else, the convenience of an ancillary screen for your smartphone will be enough reason for many to consumers to jump on the smartwatch bandwagon. Imagine just being able to glance at your wrist to see who is calling or texting, rather than digging your smartphone out of your pocket. Reference: slides 52 & 53 of Mary Meeker’s report.

Functionality – What makes a smartwatch “smart”
Most consumers who don’t follow tech trends won’t be familiar with what a SmartWatch can do. So, the infographic will need to provide an overview of what various smartwatch features and capabilities are or will be. This is the ‘what’ of the explanation.

Smartwatches extend certain smartphone functionality such as text and e-mail messages, social updates, calendar appointments and other notifications. Many will incorporate fitness tracking capabilities such as counting steps taken(distance traveled), tracking goals, measuring sleep patterns, monitoring heart rate, body temperature, and other vitals.

Some convenient functionality that smartwatches paired with a smartphone can provide:

Ancillary to your smartphone

  • Incoming Call Notification
  • Calendar Notifications
  • Email and text message alerts
  • Social media updates
  • Music
  • Read messages
  • Answer phone calls
  • Interaction & Communication with smartphone sensors like accelerometers, GPS and apps that use those sensors

Fitness tracking

  • Heart rate
  • Body temperature
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Steps taken
  • Distance traveled
  • Activity recognition

The Technology (How)
Many people may be interested in how the smartwatch will work, how new technologies will enable the functionality described. This is the ‘how’ of the explanation.

Smart watches will incorporate new or improve technology such as: accelerometers, gyroscopes, compass, GPS, sensors, Bluetooth smart, new display technology such as Qualcomm’s Mirasol or flexible OLED displays.

Flexible OLED, Mirasol, e-Ink

Accelerometers, gyroscopes, compass, GPS, pedometers



Projected #s (How Much)
The numbers will ultimately decide whether smartwatches are adopted en masse and become mainstream or if they will only be a niche product.

According to Next/Market Insights: Smartwatch Market Forecast to Grow From 15 Million in 2014 to 373 Million by 2020

There are a lot of tech companies, big and small, in this race. The following is just a sampling. New players are joining the race on a weekly basis (or it seems like it anyway).

Qualcomm Toq
Samsung Galaxy Gear
Motorola MotoACTV
Nissan Nismo
Apple iWatch

Challenges & Obstacles
Battery life
OS Compatibility

All this is a lot of information to share in one infographic. So, some distillation and decisions need to be made to determine what story to tell, what to leave in and what to leave out.

Reference Material


Websites dedicated to smartwatch news and reviews

SmartWatch Review

SmartWatch News


Reference Articles

Articles about smartwatches

Smartwatches Could Outshine Wearable Fitness Gadgets – Information Week

Apple knows wearable technologies have a huge future – The Guardian

The race to the wrist: Promise for patients and physicians? – mHealth News

Before iWatch: the timely history of the smartwatch – Tech Radar

 In Search of the Next Boom, Developers Cram Their Apps into Smart Watches – MIT Technology Review

Smartwatch Market Forecast To Reach 15 Million in 2014 – Forbes

Smartwatch Market Forecast to Grow From 15 Million in 2014 to 373 Million by 2020 – Next Market

Shipments of Wearable Technology Devices Will Reach 64 Million in 2017 – GPS World

 8 real world uses for a smartwatch – SmartWatch Review

Why smartwatches, glasses and other wearable tech are no gimmick – CITE World

Forbes SmartWatch Infographic – Forbes