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We see them more and more on the wrists of Canadians: smart or connected watches are real technological gadgets, in addition to being beautiful fashion accessories.
A valid extension of our cell phone, they save us time by allowing us to centralize our notifications, calls, SMS, and so many others.
But how exactly does a smartwatch work?
We give you a short user guide for connected watches so that they are no longer a mystery to you!
How does a smartwatch work?
The operating system
Connected watches, like smartphones, work thanks to an operating system.
It is a space with unique ergonomics and its application store.
- Watch OS is the Apple Watch operating system, designed to work in symbiosis with iOS (iPhone system). The system incorporates all applications from the Apple environment (Safari, Maps, Mail, Music, etc.) and integrates the voice assistant Siri.
- Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) is the system offered by Google for Android smartphones. It also provides the entire Google ecosystem (Maps, Play Store, etc.) and integrates its Google Assistant voice assistant. Finally, Google offers its system to various manufacturers, such as Huawei and Fossil.
- Tizen OS is the operating system of the Korean manufacturer Samsung. Still, since its Galaxy Watch 4 Series, the brand also integrates the Wear OS system from Google.
- Other manufacturers such as Garmin, Fitbit, or Withings have their systems.
If you are buying your first watch, we recommend choosing one with the same operating system as your cell phone.
It will give you a much better experience and automatic updates.
The essential operation of a smartwatch
Let’s start first with the main operation of most connected watches.
It’s straightforward: each has a Bluetooth wireless connection, essential for linking the device to your smartphone.
Once the watch is unpacked, the first step is to configure the pairing with your mobile.
Then, the watch guides you through the different steps (if it’s the first time you’ve used it).
It is also necessary to install a dedicated application to configure the watch and find all your data there.
Most watches offer iOS and Android versions of their app, except one: Apple.
Apple prefers to keep its users in a closed ecosystem since Apple Watch owners must have an iPhone for it to work.
On the contrary, an iPhone owner can use a Garmin, Samsung, or Huawei watch.
The watch is active and functional once connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Some models need to be close to your cell phone to stay connected, while others can work just fine on their own.
You can then navigate through the various menus from the touch screen (or not, depending on the model) to activate specific options and access the recorded data.
What’s inside the smartwatch
Originally, smartwatches or smartwatches were simple Bluetooth receivers installed on a dial before being perfected.
The watch emits a signal detected by your cell phone to allow synchronization.
When the watch is connected to your smartphone, it can receive the same information there, including alerts in the event of a message, call, or notification via social networks.
With the power of innovation, these technological watches then integrated wifi sensors.
GPS and activity sensors have been added to follow the number of steps and the course of users, thus bringing the connected watch closer to the activity bracelet (for physical and sports activities).
Finally, micro-processors equipped with mobile operating systems and long-lasting batteries make it possible to use applications and prolong the fun!
How a connected sports watch works
The sport was undoubtedly the first area where the connected watch was adopted. For a good reason: it has become indispensable!
Even entry-level models offer a wide selection of options and features that enhance your user experience.
The most important thing about these sports watch models? Its optical sensors!
Inside the watch, these sensors use LEDs that produce a light signal, passing through the skin and its three layers (dermis, epidermis, and hypodermis).
Blood capillaries traverse the skin.
The heart modifies the quantity and flow of blood in this vasculature when it performs its pumping movements.
It is how a watch can analyze the blood flow inside the wrist and thus extract valuable data for monitoring sports progress.
On the other hand, we must be aware that we are not all equal in front of optical sensors: our skin type, morphology, and other bodily factors can influence our results compared to a watch from another manufacturer.
Two people can wear the same watch; the results will always be different.
Your results also depend on how you wear your watch: tight, loose, close to the wrist, or not. So many parameters that affect our results.
Tip: it is not very efficient to use a bracelet / connected watch in the middle of winter because the optical sensor is based on our blood flow to draw our results.
However, in winter, the body limits heat loss and blood flow in the veins.
The heart rate will be lower, and the sensor will be much less accurate (unless you spend some time warming up before going out).
The number of calories burned and steps taken, sleep cycles, and nocturnal movements.
Some watches also allow you to perform an ECG on demand (electrocardiogram), such as the Apple Watch Series 7, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch Active 2, or the Fitbit Sense.
The best smartwatches also offer the possibility of monitoring your blood oxygenation level for the most seasoned athletes.
But measurements of this type are not the only valuable functions for athletes.
There is also the presence of a GPS and many sensors, such as an accelerometer, making it possible to precisely follow the routes taken by walking, running, or even pedaling.
Some devices are also equipped with an altimeter and a waterproofing treatment for the more adventurous.
All these features give you genuine autonomy in your progress: you regain control over your health!
How a smartwatch works for everyday life
Think again: it is just as helpful and exciting to wear a smartwatch for non-sporting reasons!
The principle remains the same: the optical sensors measure your physical activity according to your blood flow every day.
If you like to challenge yourself every day and push your limits, a smartwatch can boost you to do a little more every day.
Thus, you can equip yourself with a watch for its pedometer function, telling you how many calories you have burned in fun and well-illustrated form.
In addition, many devices set you a threshold of 10,000 steps per day, the official recommendation of the WHO.
To make sure you don’t miss a thing in your social and professional life, your watch is by default connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
There, it is the various Bluetooth and wifi sensors that take over what is happening in your mobile phone to transcribe it to your wrist.
For example, if you receive a call, the watch vibrates even if your smartphone is in silent mode.
Text messages, emails, and even notifications received on social networks appear on the device’s screen. Some watches even allow you to reply to them.
Operation of a connected watch with a SIM card
Thanks to a built-in SIM card, speakers, and microphone, some watches with built-in cellular connectivity allow you to make/receive calls.
Then you need to get:
- mobile service for your phone;
- a SIM card for your watch;
- mobile service for your watch.
If you are out of range of your phone’s Bluetooth signal, you can make calls with your watch using its number.
If your watch is within range of your cell’s Bluetooth signal, you can make calls using its number or the phone number.
How a connected watch works: what to remember
The smartwatch is a real jewel of technology whose performance is no longer to be listed.
Here are the main points to remember:
- the smartwatch works through optical sensors that analyze blood flow;
- they are then able to measure several data: heart rate, number of steps, ECG, oxygenation rate, etc. ;
- other more sophisticated sensors also allow use in water, as well as at altitude;
- the smartwatch works less well in extreme cold because blood flow is less essential to limit heat loss;