Smart Tool Watches?
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  1. #1
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    Smart Tool Watches?

    Hey everyone. Smart watches tend to divide the watch community quite a bit, and to be perfectly honest, I am one of those who isn’t really a fan of the smart watch concept on the whole. My biggest gripe with them is that they’re essentially just a second display for the cell phone that they’re paired to. They don’t really offer much in terms of standalone functionality.

    However, a topic that tends to unite the watch community is tool watches. Most people appreciate them in some way. So that got me thinking about the capability of smart watches, but with a tool watch mentality.

    Imagine a smart watch that is blissfully unaware of a cell phone’s existence. It is very intentionally disconnected from your cell phone, car, and most other things. No SMS, no Facebook integration, or any non-horological nonsense. It is its own device, capable of anything and everything a watch could do. The “smart” part would essentially turn the watch into an infinite-complication watch.

    Press a button and you switch between configurations of complications and styles. Maybe you want two time zones displayed; your current time and the hour back at home while traveling. Maybe you want a chronograph - and it could even calculate units per second/minute/hour on your behalf and present it to you without having to read a very tiny number on a very small bezel. It could even point north and act as a compass.

    When you start to think of tool-watch possibilities, a smart watch starts to sound very, very interesting. It could go beyond what is possible with mechanical and quartz watches. There are other timing related applications that are untapped by traditional watches:

    - Metronome for musicians
    - Shot timer for shooting sports
    - Parallel timers for cooking/baking
    - Probably lots more.

    Now, I know what you’re saying. All of these features are possible on existing smart watches. While that may technically be true, do keep in mind that these features are largely third party apps and require general interaction with the watch’s operating system. The user experience from the perspective of a tool-watch is quite horrible. The current state of smart watches is very good if what you’re looking for is an alternative interface for your cell phone. Notifications for social media, phone calls, and text messages are first class citizens, but timing related functionality is not.

    So what I’m wondering is whether or not there is a smart watch available, or in current development, that prioritizes being a watch over being a second cell phone screen. I see a lot of potential in a “watch first” smart device.

    Thanks for reading my wall of text! 🙂

  2. #2
    Member kramer5150's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    Maybe some of the stand alone Android watches could be made to fit this niche'. LEMFO, Zeblaze come to mind immediately. Some of them do have root access as well, similar in principal to an Android cell phone. I have read about others rooting them for 5-6 day battery life by dialing back microprocessor background functions. That level of programmability is way over my head though.

  3. #3
    Member BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by GerryH View Post
    - Metronome for musicians
    This would have to be either really loud or tap my wrist really hard for me to notice it. I've tried a metronome app on my AW while playing tuba and trombone, and it just wasn't enough.

    Now, I know what you’re saying. All of these features are possible on existing smart watches. While that may technically be true, do keep in mind that these features are largely third party apps and require general interaction with the watch’s operating system. The user experience from the perspective of a tool-watch is quite horrible. The current state of smart watches is very good if what you’re looking for is an alternative interface for your cell phone. Notifications for social media, phone calls, and text messages are first class citizens, but timing related functionality is not.
    Watch-based apps aren't forced to just be extensions of phone apps. I've got a couple games on my AW that don't have a playable iPhone counterpart. All you have to do is write the app appropriately.

    What's difficult to do is manage some of these more complicated ideas without either the phone's larger screen or tons of voice control capabilities. Unless you can manage on-device voice recognition, it's going to have to offload the "thinking" to the proverbial cloud.

    Putting all the controls on the watch itself has always been clunky, even with such common models as G-Shocks. We're just used to dealing with the clunkiness. To try to make things easier, Breitling now has an app-controlled watch. It's not a smartwatch in the Apple/Android/Garmin sense, but it looks like a typical hybrid analog-digital Breitling -- but it can do more stuff because it effectively has a phone-sized control interface.
    https://www.breitling.com/us-en/watc...00W-M20BASA.1/

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  5. #4
    Member BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    But, hey, Garmin is showing some hope for the OP's quest. Saw this Gizmodo writeup today:

    https://gizmodo.com/garmin-hopes-peo...tch-1833240281

    Garmin’s Todd Register, the creative lead and product manager of the new line, told Gizmodo the biggest challenge of designing and implementing the MARQ timepieces was simply fitting all of the additional functionality into a timepiece that, at least at a passing glance, doesn’t look like a smartwatch bulging with features. Aside from an LCD display, these could easily be mistaken for watches worn by ivy league-types who wear their sweaters like capes. But that also means you won’t see any feature crossovers between the MARQ watches. The added functionality is more than just custom apps made for each watch—so if you’re a pilot who also enjoys sailing, you’ll need to cough up $3,800 for both versions.
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  6. #5
    Member kramer5150's Avatar
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    Thinking abut it further... WearOS watches and most smart watches for that matter have an airplane mode that terminates all radios and effectively makes them dumb watches. One step beyond that is a battery economy mode that I think terminates all radio and CPU function except basic time keeping. But that mode terminates EVERYTHING including the main watch face, it just runs the constant-on charging screen when I push a button to wake which is an ugly plain-generic looking white display numerals.

    Still though the apps are mostly non-functional without connectivity. I agree it would be cool to have apps that were optimally designed to function in an unconnected dumb mode. That would almost need to be an entire sub category of app ecosystem.
    Last edited by kramer5150; March 15th, 2019 at 16:18.

  7. #6
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    [QUOTE=GerryH;48425993

    - Metronome for musicians
    - Shot timer for shooting sports
    - Parallel timers for cooking/baking
    - Probably lots more.

    [/QUOTE]

    to the OP - Garmin Fenix range (3-5 & MARQ) already does all of this and much more, independently of mobile phones. The only purpose of the phone in this range of watches is for smart messaging and syncing data back to the online portal (this can also be done direct with a pc). You can also use the phone to change settings like watch faces on the watch as well as on a PC directly. I switched Bluetooth off on my Fenix 5 some months ago and haven't needed to switch it on since.

    Take a look at garmin and suunto ranges - they leave casio & apple in the dust for functionality, battery life and independence from the phone.
    "One watch is never enuff. He who dies with the most watches wins " - orsoni

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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by aks12r View Post
    Take a look at garmin and suunto ranges - they leave casio & apple in the dust for functionality, battery life and independence from the phone.
    If you like the monochrome screens (or some sort of e-ink colors), the "medieval" user experience (i.e. lack of touch gestures) and the huge sizes, then Garmin makes one of the best smart tool watches indeed.

  9. #8
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by utzelu View Post
    If you like the monochrome screens (or some sort of e-ink colors), the "medieval" user experience (i.e. lack of touch gestures) and the huge sizes, then Garmin makes one of the best smart tool watches indeed.
    Touch gestures are useless for watches used outdoors and in sweaty, wet, greasy environments. Like when you're at the gym. Or swimming. Showering, cooking, possibly at work or just caught on the rain. Great if you sit in a coffee shop sipping a latte and Instagramming on 2" screen instead of your phone and laptop which are right next to you, whilst you pose in your loafers with no socks....
    I'm kidding of course. Garmin fenix are for outdoor use. Designed to take being dropped and beaten up a little. Nothing like gshock but enough to make an apple watch owner cry like a hungry baby.

    You're right about the colours and pixels too. Only 16 million colours to use. Pixel is 240x240 which is not as good as Samsung apple Android wear. But I get 5 weeks between charges in watch mode and 50 hours in GPS. Did apple get past 3 days between charges yet? Maybe in the series 4 I didn't bother checking ��

    As for size, it's big. Or is it? Some of the crap they (re) released in Basel this year makes the fenix look tiny.

    Edited for extra sarcasm
    Last edited by aks12r; April 9th, 2019 at 00:31.
    "One watch is never enuff. He who dies with the most watches wins " - orsoni

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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by aks12r View Post
    Touch gestures are useless for watches used outdoors and in sweaty, wet, greasy environments. Like when you're at the gym. Or swimming. Showering, cooking, possibly at work or just caught on the rain. Great if you sit in a coffee shop sipping a latte and Instagramming on 2" screen instead of your phone and laptop which are right next to you, whilst you pose in your loafers with no socks....
    I'm kidding of course. Garmin fenix are for outdoor use. Designed to take being dropped and beaten up a little. Nothing like gshock but enough to make an apple watch owner cry like a hungry baby.

    You're right about the colours and pixels too. Only 16 million colours to use. Pixel is 240x240 which is not as good as Samsung apple Android wear. But I get 5 weeks between charges in watch mode and 50 hours in GPS. Did apple get past 3 days between charges yet? Maybe in the series 4 I didn't bother checking ��

    As for size, it's big. Or is it? Some of the crap they (re) released in Basel this year makes the fenix look tiny.

    Edited for extra sarcasm
    First of all, in my post I acknowledged that Garmin Fenix is one of the best sports smart-watches on the market, if not the best. But I also outlined what I believe are its shortcomings. So let's digest a bit your comments:
    1. Touch gestures and outdoor usage - not sure if you tried an Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch or a Casio WSD F30, but they all work beautifully when doing outdoor activities. I swim with my AW3, I wear it when hiking or when going to gym and never felt there is an issue with the touch gestures. They just work the same as when sitting in a coffee shop :) With the Garmin's button based screen navigation I always get my arm hair caught in between the buttons and finger, making an annoying experience. Not to mention that it takes ages to get to the right sub-menu or app.
    2. Robustness vs. versatility - Garmin Fenix is a focused sports watch, so it is big, made of plastic mostly and has low res screen. The thing is, you can achieve the same level of robustness with an AW just by using an aftermarket case. There are plenty to choose from, making the AW shock proof and even increasing its water resistance to 100m. Versatility of the AW is king and you can wear it on any occasion short of a black tie situation. You cannot say the same about Garmin, for me it is huge and too focused to wear it on anything other than sports outfit.
    3. Battery - no contest there, Garmin wins by a lot. Depending on ones life style, this may be a deal breaker or not.

    In conclusion, for someone who is looking to buy a new smart watch it is important to share both the qualities and constraints of the offerings.
    WatchDAniel likes this.

  11. #10
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    Re: Smart Tool Watches?

    I like the tool watch idea! I had a smart watch but their was too much information coming through my wrist! Just liked the different faces and configurations.

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