Despite an endless barrage of commercials, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch hasn't been a big hit for Samsung Electronics. But the South Korean company has high hopes for a new app that lets BMW owners monitor their beloved cars' vital signs on their wristwatches.
Samsung introduced the BMW app for the Gear last week at the International Consumer Electronics Show. You couldn't miss it. Among the televisions, cameras, tablets and dishwashers in Samsung's largest-ever booth inside the Las Vegas Convention Center, a BMW i3 electric car was stationed in one corner.
- Internet of Things Meets Reality of Washington’s Pace
- Ford CEO Says Privacy Laws Needed Amid In-Car Tech Boom
The scene looked a bit random, but it showed how important the Gear is for Samsung. The company had to play catchup in smartphones, but it currently has the lead in smartwatches, part of an emerging category of wearable devices that industry analysts say could be the next big thing in consumer electronics. Given the slowing sales of high-end handsets, Samsung is hoping to accelerate the adoption of wearable technology before Apple can put out its iWatch.
High-end Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note product lines, have generated big profits, but the company sells far more budget phones. At $299, the Gear isn't designed for price-conscious consumers or people in emerging markets. Teaming up with the German automaker could help Samsung reach an audience that can afford the luxury gadget.
Using the BMW i Remote app, the Gear can wirelessly connect to the i3 sedan to deliver notifications about whether the windows are down, the drivable range and how much electric charge is remaining in the car battery — which, by the way, is supplied by Samsung. Gear users can also tap a button on the watch's screen or say a voice command to locate where their car is parked, load directions onto the car's navigation system or pre-heat the seats in cold weather.
Many of these features are also available in BMW's apps for Android and iPhone, but based on user reviews, they don't work that well. So it's questionable whether the software will be any better on a watch.