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Asustek pondering smartwatch with voice, movement control

2014/03/09 15:48:43

Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Asustek Computer Inc. is envisioning developing a wearable device that can be controlled using voice commands or customizable hand movements, according to the chairman of the Taiwanese PC maker.

Jonney Shih said Sunday that Asustek's first wearable device -- widely expected to be a smartwatch -- will be used to complement a smartphone rather than be launched as a standalone device because smartphones have the more mature applications that consumers covet.

The company, however, is considering new options for the user interface on the wearable device rarely seen on touch-enabled smartphones because of the device's smaller screen, Shih said.

"There would be more natural user interfaces such as voice or movement controls, although more breakthroughs are needed in these areas," Shih said when answering students' questions at a job fair organized by National Taiwan University.

Another key issue to be addressed for the planned Asustek device is power consumption, which should be lowered to about a tenth of that of a smartphone even though it will run voice- or movement-based features, Shih said.

Asked about Asustek's strategy to take on challenges from China's low-cost Android phone makers, Shih described the market as "a must-face challenge" for Asustek and said that his company will tap into the segment aggressively with "attractive prices."

Voice or gesture control is actually not a new feature in the booming wearable device market, which could reach US$20.6 billion by 2018 on worldwide shipments of 191 million units, according to estimates by Taiwan's Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK).

Martian Watches, a California-based developer, unveiled in 2012 the world's first voice-enabled smartwatch that lets users give voice commands, such as sending or receiving calls and texts, to iPhone or Android handsets.

In October 2013, Japanese electronics maker Sony Corp. launched its new SmartWatch 2, a water-resistant watch that connects to Android devices via Bluetooth or near-field communication (NFC) wireless technology.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. also debuted new smartwatches, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade fair in February.

The watches sported features for daily living, such as controlling one's TV set at home and offering personal fitness coaching in real time.

(By Jeffrey Wu)
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