The three models in Garmin’s Quatix series are preloaded with apps for workouts and contactless payments. They range in price from $699 to $1,149, and offer several advances in deeper, more tailored connectivity. “It’s called the James Bond feature,” said David Dunn, senior director of marine sales at Garmin.
“You can drive your boat with your watch,” he added. “No other marine manufacturer can do what we do and connect directly into marine electronics.” The Autopilot Control app, preloaded on the watch, can be connected to a compatible chart plotter and then used to maintain a specific GPS route as well as to view real-time data like speed, depth, engine r.p.m. and water temperature.
Other preloaded options, Mr. Dunn said, include what the company calls SailAssist, racing aids like a countdown timer and virtual start line, and control of an onboard entertainment system.
Extending the use of smartwatches via connectivity isn’t limited to seafaring equipment. Earlier this year, the second generation of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, an information and entertainment system, was introduced in the automaker’s new S-Class sedan, and within it, a proprietary algorithm called Energizing Coach.
A user is told to download the Mercedes Me Connect app from the Apple or Android app stores onto a compatible Garmin smartwatch, including the branded Mercedes-Benz Venu model.
When the app is linked to the S-Class’s system, the smartwatch will send the user’s pulse rate, stress level and sleep quality data to the car. An algorithm then uses the information to suggest changes like the color of the interior’s graphic display, intensity of the lighting, temperature and audio levels, as well as recommending a massage setting for the seats.
“One of the biggest areas of interest automakers have is using the watch as a digital key,” said Kip Dondlinger, Garmin’s automotive design and planning leader, “allowing a person to unlock or start their car and see other information about their car using the watch.” And late this year Garmin, which is based in Kansas, is scheduled to deliver a branded watch designed to unlock car doors, along with other functions, to Geely, the Chinese automotive company that owns Volvo, Lotus and Polestar.
Garmin isn’t the only watch brand or technology company invested in digital vehicle keys. Apple has been working on digital key adoption with the Car Connectivity Consortium, a cross-industry organisation dedicated to advancing smartphone-to-car solutions. BMW Group became the first to use it, in 2021 models. The digital key now operates only on Apple iPhones (using iOS 13.6 and newer) and is available on select BMW models manufactured since March 2020.
Apple also has been striving to streamline travel and life at home.
In September, the company announced that Arizona and Georgia would be the first states to allow users to upload their driver’s licenses or state identifications to the Apple Wallet on their iPhones or Apple Watches, with six other states to follow soon. And the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has said the feature will be accepted at the security checkpoints at select airports. Later this fall, Apple said, it also will introduce a digital home key, allowing Apple Watches to be used in place of physical keys, and for contactless check-ins at Hyatt hotels worldwide.