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Communications of the ACM


Wearables: Has the Age of Smartwatches Finally Arrived?

Wearables, illustrative photo

Credit: Mark Prince

The idea of strapping a computer to one's wrist is not new. By the middle of the 20th century there were plenty of examples of this in science fiction and the 1970s saw the first LED and LCD watches such as Pulsar NL C81. Intel's Gordon Moore famously bought the Microma digital watch company, hoping to develop a more powerful wrist-mounted computer. However, the technology was expensive at the time and not powerful enough to provide much more functionality than non-digital watches. Therefore, similar efforts, such as the Fossil wrist PDA and IBM/Citizen WatchPad also failed.

In the last century, the wristwatch replaced the pocket watch as a more convenient place to get at time information quickly. More recently, the ubiquity and functionality of mobile phones (which can also display the time) caused many to abandon the wristwatch as redundant jewelry and go back to what is effectively a pocket watch.


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