Blog: Android Smartphone Management Through Galaxy Gear

Application Development, Mobile
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Smart watch has become a part of our daily life just a short while ago, when they captured a niche of smartphones accessories and wearable technology. Not only they function as a regular watch, they can manage and send remote commands to your smartphone! With this article we’re starting a new discussion and series of blog posts on software development and interaction between gadgets and Android-based smartphones.

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Wearable Technology Concept

Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch represents a new and expanding class of electronic devices – wearable devices or wearable computers. Their key feature is basically explained within the term itself: These devices are worn by the user – hence they are with him or her all the time. Of course these days hardly anyone goes anywhere without their smartphone, but the uniqueness of the wearable device is that it becomes an attached part of our body, effortlessly following us anywhere we go. Such intimate contact with this device implicates its more active usage. For instance one can easily miss a call on his phone, which can be on silent in one’s pocket or purse, but it would be pretty hard to not pay attention to the smartwatch vibration on your wrist.

From the technical standpoint wearable technology is a family of compact electronic devices equipped with microprocessor, flash memory, data storage and wireless connection modules, camera and various indicators (e.g. heart rate indicator).

In the table below we’ve collected the main categories and examples of wearable devices:

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What is Samsung Galaxy Gear?

First let’s go through a short overview of the smartwatch characteristics. Galaxy Gear has rather mediocre technical parameters, as for a 2013 Android device, however they are quite sufficient to support the smartphone accessory device.

Samsung Galaxy Gear Characteristics:

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Galaxy Gear has certain operational limitations:

  • Device and platform-related: in order to connect to the smartwatch, the hand-held device should have BLE module and an Android OS 4.3 version and up. This can be explained by the fact that a wearable device has only Bluetooth modules, Bluetooth 4.0 to be precise and Bluetooth Low Energy module, which are fully supported by the Android OS 4.3 and up.
  • Corporate or better put “marketing and vision”- related, by that we mean the fact that the smartwatch communicates only with the phones produced by Samsung. Currently Galaxy Gear supports the following smartphones: Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy S3.

Creating a smartphone “remote control” with the help of smartwatch

Our team had an interesting experience while working on a project of a smartphone remote control implementation with the help of smartwatch. To do this we had to develop a communication system, which would allow communication between a remote-control app on a smartwatch and a previously developed parent-app on a smartphone.

After a thorough review of the Galaxy Gear specification we started working on the core section of the project, which we’ve divided into 3 main blocks:

  1. Communication system development to allow communication between smartwatch and smartphone program modules. This was an essential step since without having main data transfer principles between the two devices we could not proceed further;
  2. New module development for the core application, which would be an add-on to the already developed app;
  3. Smartwatch app development, which would take upon itself the remote control and management of the parent app on the phone.

Communication system development became a starting point, which we are going to discuss in more detail.

Communication System Architecture

After performing some research our team came up with the following communication system architecture:

  • Communication module, allowing sending and accepting messages from both the smartwatch and the smartphone;
  • Notification module, generating events notifications for the smartwatch and passing them further to the communication module;
  • Command module, creating commands for the smartphone and transferring them to the communication module.

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DB Best Team Communication System Architecture

 

Here is how it works: when the core smartphone app needs to notify the user about something (e.g. incoming push notification or an sms), it sends a message to the smartwatch. Smartwatch receives and processes this message, and then notifies the user about the event.

When a user performs some action using his smartwatch app, it sends out a command to the core smartphone app. The core application performs the command received in a message from smartwatch, and if needed sends a notification about the results of the performed command back to the smartwatch.

Conclusion

As a result of our team’s research we have built a communication system enabling remote control of the phone from Samsung Galaxy Gear, after completing this essential part the team could proceed with developing both the smartwatch app and the add-on for the phone app. The communication system design and implementation gave us valuable experience, which would allow our team to easily progress with similar projects, involving not only smartwatch devices, but other wearable devices in general, which could serve as a remote control for various high-tech innovative gadgets.