Smartwatches that kickstarted the wearable revolution

Life before the Apple Watch...check out these early big name smartwatch efforts
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If the launch of the Apple Watch, hot on the heels of the Android Wear army made you think that the giants of the tech world were just getting started with smartwatches, think again.

Connected time-pieces from the likes of Samsung, Sony, LG and Microsoft are nothing new, and the devices that we're seeing hit the shops now have their roots set in the last decade or so.

And while many of these first-gen smartwatches proved to be commercial duds, we've a lot to thank them for as they paved the way for the newest tech revolution.

We've got a feeling that Apple's smartwatch debut may fair a little better.


Samsung SPH-WP10 (1999)


In the year 14BG (Before Gear) Sammy unleashed this absolute monstrosity onto an unsuspecting public. The WP10 was the first ever CDMA enabled smartwatch, meaning users could make calls on the go, while at the same time looking totally cool. Take that Gear S.

At the time, Samsung claimed its smartwatch had a "dynamic design for the new millenium conjures up images of adventure". True story.

Samsung S9110 (2009)


The Samsung S9110 wasn't the direct successor to the WP-10, there were a handful of awful devices in between, but it is a smartwatch of note as, let's face it, the design is pretty Gear-esque.

It too offered calling on the go, a swanky 1.76-inch touchscreen display and, just like the current crop of Samsung Gear smartwatches, a totally ridiculous clasp.


LG Prada Link (2008)


All the cool kids were wearing the LG Prada Link smartwatch at the back-end of 2008. All the cool kids with a spare $900 in their pockets, that is.

The Bluetooth Prada II smartphone companion was limited to incoming call alerts and SMS previews but still, it just oozed class, didn't it? Didn't it?

LG GD910 (2009)


There was a lot of attention on the LG Watch Phone at CES 2009; a device that would land later that year with the official moniker of the LG GD910.

Like its Korean rival, LG thought that a phone in a watch was the way to go - the GD910 boasted 3G skills and was capable of video calling. You can't do that on an LG G Watch R.


Sony Ericsson SmartWatch MBW range (2006)


There were no LG or Samsung-style calling options on board the Japanese giant's early smartwatch efforts - although the Fossil produced devices did pack Bluetooth for call and text alerts, and also music playback controls.

A neat xda developer hack, 'SmartWatchM', added Windows Mobile compatibility and resulted in unofficial features such as weather forecasts, task lists, and phone signal strength indicators.

Sony Ericsson LiveView (2010)


Paving the way for the original Sony SmartWatch (and subsequently the SmartWatch 2 and SmartWatch 3), Sony Ericsson's LiveView connected with any Android smartphone to provide notifications and updates to the wearer.

It also packed in a rather nifty 128 x 128 OLED display, which was pretty cutting edge back in 2010.


Microsoft Spot (2004)


Microsoft is rumoured to be working on a new wearable for 2015 but, way back in 2004, it was already working with the likes of Citizen, Timex, Fossil and Suunto on its 'Smart Personal Object Technology' devices.

They were discontinued in 2008, the idea of a $59 a year subscription fee for updates never really proved popular. We wonder why?


Fossil Palm Pilot (2002)


Fossil is looking to get back into the wearable tech game – the US watch company will be teaming up with Intel for a smartwatch assault early next year.

It was 12 years ago that it had its first crack, however. Awarded 'best of Comdex 2002', the Fossil watch/PDA boasted the usual array of Palm apps, and also had a stylus integrated into the strap. Samsung Gear Note anyone?


MotoACTV (2012)


Long before, (well, two years before, at least) the Moto 360, was the MotoACTV - a fitness-based, Android-powered smartwatch that offered caller ID, text message, Twitter, Facebook, weather and calendar alerts to the user.

It wasn't round like the Moto 360 – a much higher profile smartwatch – but a quick check on the web reveals it was probably better received by the tech reviewers at the time.


If you liked this feature you should check out - Smartwatch timeline: The devices that paved the way for the Apple Watch.

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Paul Lamkin


Wareable Media Group co-CEO Paul launched Wareable with James Stables in 2014, after working for a variety of the UK's biggest and best consumer tech publications including Pocket-lint, Forbes, Electric Pig, Tech Digest, What Laptop, T3 and has been a judge for the TechRadar Awards. 

Prior to founding Wareable, and subsequently The Ambient, he was the senior editor of MSN Tech and has written for a range of publications.

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