(USA TODAY) Google jumped into the smartwatch market Tuesday, revealing a version of its Android operating system to work on wearable devices.
The project dubbed Android Wear -- focused first on smartwatches -- delivers notifications for information such as sports scores, weather and directions directly to a smartwatch. In a video promoting Wear, users are shown pulling up a QR code to check in for a flight, look up a sports score using their voice, tracking activity and sending text messages through vocal commands.
"(Wearables) understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word," says Sundar Pinchai, Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and apps, in a statement.
Pinchai says the first Android Wear devices will launch later this year. Google is working with companies including Asus, HTC, LG, Intel and Qualcomm to create chips and smartwatches that leverage Wear. A developer preview is available starting today.
Motorola already unveiled its smartwatch running Android Wear, the Moto 360. The device launches this summer.
Google already dipped into the wearable computing market with Google Glass, its high-tech eyewear that displays search results, captures photos and video and delivers other Web data.
Wearable devices are expected to be the next frontier for tech companies, as they angle to deliver the next big gadget. Several wearables are already available, from fitness bands such as Nike Fuel and Fitbit to smartwatches like the Pebble and Samsung's Galaxy Gear. Apple and Microsoft have also been rumored to be working on wearable devices.
Most of the wearables created thus far have been tethered to the user's smartphone, says Andrew Costello of IBB Consulting. "It's been a major focus to launch products that are companion devices."
It's not clear whether Android Wear watches will require a connected smartphone or work as a standalone device.