NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Google (GOOG) is reportedly in the late stages of developing an Android smartwatch to compete with offerings from Sony (SNE) and Samsung as well as a rumored future device from Apple (AAPL).
According to a Wall Street Journal report Google is currently offering the mass production of a new wearable wrist computer design to a number of Asian manufacturers. The resulting product could be announced in the next few months.
The new device is said to feature full integration with "Google Now: the company's voice-activated personal assistant system currently featured in Motorola's Moto X and a pair of new Verizon (VZ) Droid devices.
Google Now answers questions and can offer recommendations based on a user's current location and past habits. Expect a Google Now-connected watch to be able to deliver email, weather and travel alerts - as well as all the other information it can gather based on your personal Web browsing history from all of your Google Chrome devices.
Google didn't have to create a branded smartwatch from scratch, Two months ago, Google purchased WIMM Labs an early pioneer in Android wrist computing. The WIMM One, introduced in November, 2011 featured both Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity and a low-power mode which upgraded the screen once each minute.
Power consumption is a big problem for smartwatch designers. There isn't much empty space in a wrist computer for an over-sized battery pack and current smartwatches drain batteries. Samsung's new $300 Galaxy Gear needs recharging daily in normal use and that's without having to deal with a potential battery drain from an always-on, voice-activated Google Now feature.
Google's smartwatch could also be able to communicate with Google Glass. The company is currently in the process of expanding the test marketing of its futuristic "computer-built-into-an-eyeglass-frame" design. Currently, Beta testers have to pay $1,500 for the experience.
Microsoft (MSFT) which has produced rudimentary radio-connected wrist watches in the recent past is also rumored to be testing Web-connected eyeglass designs.
Apple is said to be working on a smartwatch too. It's been mentioned by industry insiders before every recent Apple product announcement. This past spring CEO Tim Cook said these new devices will be a "key branch" of the company's business in the future.
According to researchers sales wearable computers are expected to reach nearly 500 million units within the next five years.
Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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