July 2015 19
THE LATEST IN NETWORKING AND WIRELESS TECHNOLOGIES
inconvenient, though. That is why
wireless technology is the key to the
sophistication of the Apple Watch.
The Watch is loaded with wireless.
According to Apple, the Watch
includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, and
wireless charging. It is still unclear
how some of these technologies are
used and for what features.
I suspect Bluetooth is the main
wireless link for notifications and calls.
The Watch uses the latest Bluetooth
4.0 that includes the low energy
version that conserves battery power.
Also called Bluetooth Smart, it works
great for audio and low speed texting.
It works with Bluetooth headsets.
The Wi-Fi the Watch contains
is specifically 802.11b/g/n. It can
link to the iPhone when the watch
goes out of range of the Bluetooth
connection -- probably by way of
Wi-Fi’s Direct Connect feature that
lets Wi-Fi enabled devices talk to
one another directly without having
to pass through a router. The Watch
can presumably also connect to a
home router, but it is not known what
function this serves.
Another wireless feature is NFC,
or near field communications. This
is the short range technology used
for Apple’s new Pay system. NFC
operates at 13. 56 MHz, and can run
at speeds from 106 kbps to 424 kbps
over a range up to about 20 cm.
Apple Pay is a way for you to charge
purchases to your credit card by
simply tapping your iPhone on a pay
terminal or just wave your phone near
the terminal. You can also do this with
the Watch for convenience.
Finally, an unexpected feature is
wireless battery charging. While the
Watch is said to run up to 18 hours
on its battery, it is one more item you
have to charge each day. There is no
direct electrical connection between
the charger and the Watch. The
charger is applied to the back of the
Watch and it inductively connects to
a coil inside. The coils in the Watch
and charger form the primary and
secondary windings of a transformer
to transfer the power.
As I said earlier, the Watch has
a lot of technology packed into it.
Luckily, wireless chips are pretty
small so aren’t much of a problem.
However, I wonder where they put
the antennas. I suppose the Bluetooth
and Wi-Fi chips can share a common
antenna since both technologies work
on the 2. 4 GHz band. The 13. 56
MHz NFC chip needs a fairly large
coil for an antenna ... it must be in
As for GPS, there is no receiver in
the Watch. You can use the GPS and
maps on the iPhone and the maps
will display on the Watch screen.
The Future of the
The Apple Watch first became
available in April. It is hard to
determine just yet how well it will do.
While the iPhone or any smartphone
is basically a necessity today, the
Watch is an accessory. It is a totally
cool accessory with maxed out
technology. But it is expensive. There
are dozens of versions of the Watch.
The cheap low-end model sells for a
wallet-thinning $349. The high-end
gold plated models are said to cost
as much as $17,000. A typical model
will probably set you back $500 or
$600 -- the cost of the phone itself.
Smartwatches have not sold well
over the past several years they have
been available. Most are simpler to
and cheaper than the Apple Watch,
and most are used for health and
fitness tracking. The Apple Watch is a
whole new ballgame in the emerging
field of wearables. Are you going to
get one? Time will tell. NV
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n FIGURE 2. Here are three common Apple Watch functions other than time
keeping. From left to right: text messages, phone calls, and email.