Forget the Pixel Watch, Google should make its smart wristband a reality

The big G should explore other wearable ideas it's already given us a taste of
Google should make its health band a reality
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As I write this, Google will be in the process of putting the finishing touches to its hardware event, which kicks off at 10am ET (3pm UK time) tomorrow and promises plenty of shiny new things for us to play with.

Pixel 4 smartphone(s) for definite, probably a new Chromebook laptop, maybe some new Pixel Buds, and it's safe to suggest there'll be some smart home kit as well (You can keep on eye on The Ambient for all the news on that front).

Essential reading: How ECG works on your wearables

There's been speculation that those devices will be among those that Google will show off. But there are others that it could well spring on us too. Could one of those be a Google-branded smartwatch? The same one that was apparently cancelled in 2016, yes, but talk of a Pixel Watch just won't go away.

The latest to dangle a little hope in front of us is Nikkei Asian Review, which offered a quite throwaway remark that a smartwatch could be unveiled at Google's hardware event.

Forget Pixel Watch, make Google's health band a reality

What are the chances of us seeing a Pixel Watch? Our hunch is that it's not going to happen and we think that's probably for the best. Unless Google has something really groundbreaking to show us on the hardware and software front, we don't think it should bother. Wear OS still needs serious work

That's not say we want Google to give up on wearables. Google has the kind of resources to do make it work, even if it still lags behind the competition.

But maybe it's time to broaden its wearable horizons.

Back in April this year, Google created an installation at the design conference at Salone del Mobile Milano. The exhibit asked visitors to put on specially-made bands that captured how they responded to each of the rooms in the space. Each band measured biological responses such as heart activity, breathing rate, skin temperature, skin conductivity and motion data.

After the data from the bands were deleted, each wearer was provided with a printout describing the space where they felt most "at ease".

The band it seemed was a one-off for the exhibit created by teams at Google Hardware and its ATAP division. The latter is the same division responsible for Jacquard, which has now found its way into another range of denim jackets.

But there was something instantly intriguing about this "one-off". Something so far removed from the Google wearables we've seen so far made by the company's numerous hardware partners. The lack of display and the look of a very simple, elegant watch band. Google is capable of making good-looking hardware. We've seen that with its latest phones and its smart home devices.

The metrics the band demonstrated it was capable of recording are the kind we've already seen in existing wearables. It's also the kind of data Google's parent company Alphabet is said to be exploring with its Verily Study Watch. Creating something with a greater view of tracking serious health conditions.

We know that Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin and even Xiaomi is delving deeper into health tracking. Though that tracking is done via devices with watch form factors. What if there was something more elegant to wear day-to-day, that did its tracking business in a more covert way?

Maybe Google could be the one to give us meaningful biometric tracking that tells us more about our physical and mental wellbeing from a more discreet form factor.

As it struggles to get a hold of the smartwatch market that it was first to enter, it might be time for Google to put all of its smarts to use for a wearable that isn't just about trying to catch the Apple Watch. A smart wristband that doesn't look like a wearable and could goes beyond what the average wearable tracks would definitely have appeal.

It's making big strides in our homes, our pockets and on our travels. Maybe it's time to change tact for the tech that lives on our wrist.


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