Samsung hands over its Gear, reinventing a companion for your wrist

Technology changes everything. From microwaves to air conditioners to cars to computers, and when we saw the Pebble emerge last year, we saw the beginning of smart watches, a sector that Samsung wants to dominate in, as demonstrated by what it’s showing at IFA this year.

Germany’s equivalent to the Consumer Electronics Show showcased Samsung’s feat of wrist-based engineering this week, adding to the small selection of smart watches made available by both Sony and Pebble, and offering a different take on the product.

The gadget is called “Galaxy Gear,” and more or less confirms the rumours that have been floating around for the past month, with Samsung’s new device being a companion gadget that works alongside your smartphone.

“Samsung’s ongoing smart device innovation leadership reflects our commitment to listen to our consumers, who want their daily lives to be easier and more enjoyable,” said JK Shin, CEO and President of Samsung’s IT and Mobile Division.

“Samsung Galaxy Gear benefits consumers by integrating smart device technology even deeper into their everyday lives, and bridges the gap between the mobile device and fashion worlds to create truly wearable technology.”

As demonstrated by Google and its “Glass” concept that is being taken up by early adopters, wearable technology is really the next big area, and in Galaxy Gear, we’re seeing Samsung attempt it first.

As such, the Galaxy Gear wrist watch features a 4.1cm (1.63 inch) square Super AMOLED touchscreen display showing 320×320, which will run apps and connect with Samsung devices running Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean,” which will include the Galaxy Note 3, also announced today, and the Galaxy S3, S4, and Note 2 when updates are rolled out for those devices in the coming months.

Being an accessory to your smartphone, expect the watch to take calls directly from its interface, as a speaker is built into strap with two microphones included in the package, so you can be all Dick Tracy like.

Music control is also here, something we’ve seen on the Pebble, and there’s even a camera capable of firing off 1.9 megapixel images and shooting small 10 second videos sitting inside the wrist strap.

All up, it’s a neat gadget, though with a small battery rated for 315mAh, we’re not expecting a lot of life, with a rough estimate of a day.

Pricing in Australia has yet to be announced, though the US price is $299 with availability slated from September 25 in more than 140 countries. Given that Australia is normally one of the first spots for Samsung to launch its products, we’ll be surprised if that list of locations doesn’t include us, so stay tuned.

Valens Quinn was sent as a guest of Samsung Australia to IFA.