SAN FRANCISCO – During a wearables industry roundtable at Qualcomm’s Uplinq annual developer conference, David Garver shared AT&T’s vision of a new hub for wearables as the devices continue to proliferate.
The area vice president of business development said in the future people could have up to 10 wearables on at a time and that the smartphone won’t be able to accommodate all those devices while still maintaining good battery life.
“We see the opportunity to create the body as a hub,” Garver said.
Aside from doubts about smartphones being able to continue supporting wearables as new use cases and form factors keep emerging, Garver saw limited value in a smartwatch simply tethering to smartphone and recreating its functions on the wrist.
Garver called connecting the cell phone to the wrist a “novelty use case.” He specifically pointed to the newly announced Apple Watch as “not necessarily revolutionary” but was encouraged by the company’s entrance into the space and its potential to boost interest in smartwatches.
Another roadblock to wearables seizing some interest away from the smartphone is the limitations to entertainment applications on a small screen. Garver said it’s possible to bring popular video apps like Netflix and immersive mobile games to a watch but it’s difficult and it might not be the most relevant use case.
“I don’t see people entertaining themselves for an hour by looking at their wrist,” Garver said.
To AT&T, the wearables market right now needs to focus on specific use cases like fitness and safety and that wearables need to improve your life through contextual information.
Backing up those assertions on the panel were representatives from Timex and Filip, both of whom have cellular-enabled wearables exclusive to AT&T’s network. The Filip, a watch-like device for kids that provides parents with location info and simple contact functionality, just introduced its second generation. The Timex Ironman GPS ONE+ is a 3G-enabled watch built for fitness tracking and simple messaging and notifications.
The Ironman won’t hit the consumer market until later this fall but the Filip is available now and the company is already considering ways to broaden engagement and open new use cases for the device.
Filip CEO Jonathan Peachey said the company has begun building a platform it will make available to select developers in the hopes that kids will keep the device for years.