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Taiwan's tech industry tests the waters in wearables, Internet of Things

Michael Kan | June 6, 2014
Acer and MediaTek, for example, have entered into a partnership to create more wearable technologies.

Developing wearables and other connected devices, however, won't be the same as creating a PC or smartphone. No longer can hardware makers just build the gadget and slap on Windows or Android. Instead, it means the creation of more specialized products, such as smartwatches that can analyze a user's exercise routine. Sensors are needed, along with software services that can decipher the data, MediaTek executives said at the show.

"What business model is correct, and how companies will differentiate is something all players are working on," said MediaTek's CEO Ming-Kai Tsai on Wednesday. "The Internet of Things era means that an individual will receive even more personalized services than before."

At Computex, smaller Taiwanese vendors are also starting to test the waters in wearables. Netronix, a maker of e-readers, unveiled its first smartwatch at the show. The company is working with its partners in Europe to sell the product to consumers, for prices probably below US$100, said Robert Lu, a Netronix project manager.

"We plan on developing many watches," he said, adding that the company expects growing market demand.

In Netronix's case, the company's smartwatch can last between four to six days, and works as companion device to a smartphone, notifying the user of incoming messages and calls. Other vendors are offering similar products, some that feature voice commands, and others that can independently make phone calls.

But not all are impressed by these initiatives. "I think everyone is still in the experimental stage at the moment," said Tracy Tsai, an analyst with research firm Gartner, who said the wearable offerings had changed little from last year's Computex show.

Vendors want to create more smart devices to compliment their other products, but so far the industry is still struggling to find ways to make wearables useful, she said.

"The products may be ready, but its more important to create actual use cases for them," Tsai added.

 

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