Document Type


Lead Author Type

CIS Masters Student


Dr. Jonathan Engelsma,

Embargo Period



Technological innovation has made it possible to package a powerful processor and memory subsystem coupled with a high-resolution display, wireless communication, and specific sensors into a device known as the smartwatch. This device introduces a new set of new challenges such as battery life, user interaction, and other how to create applications for it. Smartwatches are connected to the Internet and provide gesture interaction and the ability to continuously monitor a user’s physical activity. The smartwatch has access to the smartphone and therefore can be used as a second display to show users various notifications from the phone such as calls and messaging as well as information from the Internet, such as social networking apps (Facebook, Twitter etc.), to do lists and many other applications.

The objective of this project is to explore smartwatch technology from a developer’s perspective. A short history of smartwatch technology is given along with a discussion of the typical use cases. This is followed by a deeper technology dive into the two most popular smartwatch platforms on the market today: the Apple Watch and Android Wear. This paper will look at the features of both devices side by side, and take a look at the development platforms available to create applications on them. This study will discuss the frameworks, the tools, and some of the challenges we encountered in learning to build applications with them. A sample application for both platforms will be presented and discussed.