Kronoz might include new features like NFC in its smartwatches, but the NFC chip and related software will drive up costs, said Jerry Lam, the company's business operations director. "It is not important now to have payment capability, since we are making a highly affordable model," he said.
Fitbit, with its booth in another area near fitness wearables, showed its latest fitness bands, including the new $250 Surge with GPS capabilities. Asked if Fitbit plans to move its product line toward smartwatches with more advanced features, Ben Waller, product marketing coordinator, said the company plans to remain open to various advancements, including using the device for mobile payments.
It was clear that anyone showing smartwatches at CES wanted to see how well the highly anticipated Apple Watch, due later this year, will perform and how often its mobile payments capability, using NFC, will be used.
"I expect NFC in the Apple Watch for Apple Pay to be really big," said Kevin Harwood, a consulting architect at Mutual Mobile, a company that designs a range of mobile products. "So far Samsung has skipped over NFC in its smartwatches, but that may change as it watches Apple."
Samsung has already produced six smartwatches or related smart fitness bands, the latest being the Gear S.
Harwood was part of a panel that was asked to come up with a wish list of items for future smartwatches. All the panelists said fashion will continue to matter, but also on the list were smartwatches with longer battery life than just a few days as seen in current devices.
Others on the panel said they wanted the ability to connect a smartwatch via Bluetooth or other means not only to a smartphone but to other devices, including wearables and non-wearables, such as a laptop or desktop.
"I want the smartwatch of 2020 to have an amazing battery and loads of power," said Marwan Boustany, a senior analyst for IHS, a market research firm. "I would like to have a smartwatch that is basically a processing hub that can work with a flexible display."
As CES showed, just about anything is on the table for the next crop of smartwatches. As with smartphones, a lot can happen in five years in the life of a mobile technology.
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