— Gadgets

Redefining What a Smartwatch Can Do

“Nine months ago, I never thought I would say this, but it will never leave my wrist,” John Galvin said, referring to his 51-millimeter Garmin Quatix 6X Solar. Since childhood, Mr. Galvin, 38, had been a lifelong analog watch enthusiast, wearing a Casio G-Shock with a traditional dial. Then his girlfriend surprised him with the Garmin timepiece last Christmas. “I haven’t even gotten past the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the Quatix can do, but it’s made me a believer in the smartwatch world,” Mr. Galvin said.

As the captain of a 70-foot Viking sport-fishing yacht, Mr. Galvin spends his days on the Atlantic, splitting his time between Nantucket and Cape Cod in the summer and Miami’s South Beach neighborhood in the winter. Working as a private captain for the last 14 years, Mr. Galvin prides himself on running the most technologically advanced vessels possible. “Now I have all of my electronics on my wrist at the push of a button,” he said.

The smartwatch category has been around for less than a decade. However, as its sales have expanded, makers including Apple, Garmin, and Suunto have been redefining what a smartwatch can do — from operating a boat to changing your car’s lighting.

The three models in Garmin’s Quatix series are preloaded with apps for workouts and contactless payments. They range in price from $699 to $1,149 and offer several more profound, tailored connectivity advances.

“It’s called the James Bond feature,” said David Dunn, senior director of marine sales at Garmin.

“You can drive your boat with your watch,” he added. “No other marine manufacturer can do what we do and connect directly to marine electronics. The Autopilot Control app, preloaded on the watch, can be connected to a compatible chart plotter and then used to maintain a specific GPS route and view real-time data like speed, depth, engine r.p.m., and water temperature.

Mr. Dunn said other preloaded options, including what the company calls SailAssist, racing aids like a countdown timer and virtual start line, and control of an onboard entertainment system.

Extending the use of smartwatches via connectivity isn’t limited to navigational equipment. The second generation of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, information, and entertainment system were introduced in the automaker’s new S-Class sedan. Within it is a proprietary algorithm called Energizing Coach.

A user is told to download the Mercedes Me Connect app from the Apple or Android stores onto a compatible Garmin smartwatch, including the branded Mercedes-Benz Venu model.

When the app is linked to the S-Class’s system, the smartwatch will send the user’s pulse rate, stress level, and sleep quality data to the car. An algorithm then uses the information to suggest changes like the color of the interior’s graphic display, the intensity of the lighting, temperature, and audio levels, and recommend a massage setting for the seats. One of the most significant areas of interest automakers have is using the watch as a digital key,” said Kip Dondlinger, Garmin’s automotive design and planning leader, “allowing a person to unlock or start their car and see other information about their car using the watch.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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