Google launches wearable tech OS, focuses on smartwatches initially

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Google has launched Android Wear, its operating system for wearable technology, and partnered with manufacturers and chipmakers ahead of the first devices launching this year.

The US company has launched a Developer Preview that will provide APIs to allow developers to test how notifications would work through Android Wear. The OS is built upon core functions of Suggest, which provides context specific cards such as travel information and messages, and Demand, which allows users to access apps through voice commands. Google said it would launch further developer resources and APIs in the coming weeks and months.

Android Wear will focus on watches initially, with consumers able to monitor their own health. 

Consumers will be able to say “Ok Google” to ask questions, send a text and access and control other devices.

“There’s a lot of possibilities here so we’re eager to see what developers build,” Google said in a blog post unveiling the technology. 

Further, the company announced it is working with electronics manufacturers such as Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, and chip makers like Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm ahead of the first smartwatches being launched this year. Samsung is a rival to Google in the smartwatch space, with its own Galaxy Gear products running the Tizen OS.

[Read more: Samsung releases Tizen SDK for smartwatches]

Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice-President, Android, Chrome and Apps, said: "We're always seeking new ways for technology to help people live their lives and this is just another step in that journey."

The launch of devices featuring Android Wear will boost the wearable technology market. According to recent predictions from Deloitte, there will be 10 million smart glasses, fitness bands and smartwatches sold by the end of this year, with sales worth €2.2 billion. It said smartwatches will have an average selling price of €144.

Google is widely expected to launch its Google Glass smartglasses to consumers later this year, after they were made available to developers in February 2013.

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