Google Grabs WIMM to Jumpstart Smartwatch Project

by Matt Klassen on September 3, 2013

Last summer, as rumours first started to circulate that wearable technology may be the next big thing in the mobile world (particularly eyewear and smartwatches) a strange thing happened, the lights inside wearable tech start-up company WIMM Labs suddenly went dark, leading many to wonder what had become of the company’s ambitious Android smartwatch device. At the time the company posted a cryptic message on its website, thanking its supporters and citing “an exclusive, confidential relationship” for its smartwatch.

Fast forward to the present, and with Samsung on the cusp of unveiling its own Android smartwatch and Apple rumoured to be following suit later this year, there was one noticeable absentee from the list of tech giants lumbering into the wearable tech genre: Google.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that Google has finally confirmed that it had purchased WIMM Labs last year in order to kick start its own wrist-mounted mobile offering, another cloak-and-dagger tech project from the search engine giant.

As mentioned, it was a year ago that things at WIMM Labs went dark. The company deleted its Twitter account, stopped selling its WIMM One platform, and posted the following message on its website:

During the summer of 2012, WIMM Labs entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship for our technology and ceased sales of the Developer Preview Kit (…) We’d like to thank all of our developers for their interest and willingness to experiment with our platform and look forward to exciting advances in the wearable market.

At the time the tech world speculated that Apple had scooped up the smartwatch start-up, but recently tech site GigaOm discovered that Google was the actual buyer, taking on at least some of the WIMM staff, no doubt using the start-up’s WIMM One smartwatch platform as at least the inspiration for its own device.

The latest rumours regarding a forthcoming Google smartwatch indicate that all the work on the project—including WIMM Lab’s employees—is taking place in the company’s Android unit, as opposed to its R&D division X Lab. That could mean a Google wrist-mounting Android watch could actually hit the market faster than the other piece of paradigm shifting wearable technology the search engine giant has been flaunting all year, Google Glass, which is a product of X Lab.

The brewing smartwatch wars are proving to be an interesting development in the mobile world, as while a host of similar tech start-ups have already come to market with their own fledgling wrist-mounted gadgets, the tech giants like Samsung, Apple, and Google have to produce anything, with Samsung the only one actually set to unveil something on September 4th.

But as I mentioned last week, the entire wearable tech genre seems to be a market tangent with no purpose or direction, at least not one I can see. Do we expect these gadgets to be tertiary companion devices for our smartphones, or replacements for the devices we’ve all come to know and love?

If they are companions, why do we need them, particularly as looking at our wrist seems only slightly more convenient then reaching into our pockets? Truth be told, while I see wonderful applications for wrist-mounted technology in certain markets, sports and fitness for example, I simply can’t see how such technology will become the next must-have gadgets, but then again I’m still struggling to wrap my mind around the ever-expanding phablet genre as well.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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