Talking tech since 2003

While everyone was all sorts of excited about Samsung’s newest baby, the Galaxy Gear smart watch, mobile component supplier Qualcomm quietly introduced their own smart watch to much less fanfare. Dubbed the Qualcomm Toq and priced at $299, the same as the Galaxy Gear, the Qualcomm Toq may very well be worth a look at for those in the market for a smart watch who aren’t already married to Samsung’s growing ecosystem.

Like the Galaxy Gear, the Toq acts as a companion device to your smartphone. With no word of a version with a built in LTE modem or otherwise, the Toq piggybacks off your smartphone’s connection for internet connectivity. Like other, similar devices, Toq connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth. It’s capable of streaming notifications from your Android device, though there’s no word as of yet regarding compatibility with iOS devices.

The Toq is capable of running a variety of mobile applications, which Qualcomm calls “applets”, including a clock with a variety of built in watch faces, a calendar, weather, a remote for Android’s MP3 player application. If this seems a little anemic to you right now, never fear as Qualcomm has that covered too – Qualcomm is planning on releasing a public Software Development Kit (SDK) that will allow any developer to create and submit Toq applets for the general public.

While all of this is well and good, the Toq does have one absolutely killer feature that the Galaxy Gear is missing. While the Galaxy Gear uses a relatively low resolution and run of the mill smartphone style AMOLED display, which needs to be turned off to prevent burn in and to preserve battery life, the Qualcomm Toq uses a unique touchscreen “Mirasol display.” The screen technology, which was developed by Qualcomm itself, is based on e-ink displays found on devices such as the Pebble, the Kindle, and the Nook and requires virtually no energy to remain active. However average e-ink displays, Mirasol is capable of displaying a wide range of colors, making it virtually the best of both worlds.

Qualcomm has yet to put a firm availability date on the Toq, however don’t expect to be able to walk into your local shopping mall and pick one up when it does finally hit the market. The company claims that the Toq will mostly be promoted and sold online with very limited retail space dedicated for the product. Unlike Samsung, who is clearly trying to wrap up control of the smart watch market before the battle has even begun, Qualcomm is happy merely selling a moderate amount of these. Or, as Qualcomm’s Rob Chandhok said in an interview, “A success, for us, looks like our partners picking up and running with this. Qualcomm isn’t turning into a consumer electronics company.”

Are you excited for this upcoming smart watch revolution? Will you be picking up a Toq, or are you more in the Samsung camp? Or maybe, like me, you’re just waiting to see what Apple has up their sleeves with their rumored iWatch?. Either way, the battle for control of your wrist is about to heat up in a big way, and I couldn’t be more excited to see the possibilities.

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