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Local high-tech companies bet future on emerging wearable devices market

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Amid the increasing proof of the promising future of wearable devices, Taiwan's high-tech industry has stepped up investments in the area and is likely to see a good start this year.

The Economic Daily News recently reported that the supply chain for Apple's “iWatch” was recently finalized. The report states that Quanta Computer Incorporated (廣達電腦) has received an exclusive contract to build the device, with 65 million units expected to be built in the first year of availability.

According to the Economic Daily News, Hon Hai Precision Industry (鴻海精密) and Inventec (英業達) were also in the running for assembly orders of the rumored Apple device, but Quanta secured the exclusive contract. Other Taiwanese companies are said to supply the main assembly, touch-screen controls and some integrated circuit and printed circuit boards for the final product.

In early April, a high-ranking official at Inventec revealed that the company will start mass producing wearable devices for new clients as soon as the second half of the year.

However, he declined to confirm analysts' suspicions that Inventec plans to assemble Apple Inc.'s rumored smartwatch product, the “iWatch.”

In addition, Mitac International Corp. (神達電腦) has won adidas' sports-watch order, while its Magellen-branded smart sports watches have been winning more international awards, an indicator of Mitac's move to catch up with the rapid development of technology products.

TPK, JTouch to Mass-Produce New Product Soon

Simultaneously, Taiwanese touch panel manufacturers are generally pinning hopes of a turnaround on the emergence of wearable electronic devices, and are therefore actively developing silver nano wire (SNW) and metal mesh (MM) models to divert customers from smartphones to wearable devices.

Among them, TPK Holding Co. (宸鴻), is increasingly focused on developing SNW touch panels, reportedly having had its model certified by Apple Inc. for use on the “iWatch.”

According to local media outlets, TPK plans to kick off mass production of SNW panels in the second quarter of this year, preparing for launch of the “iWatch” in the third quarter, which will be built with an OLED (organic light emitting diode) panel from LG Display of South Korea, and an SNW touch screen from TPK.

JTouch Corporation (介面光電) is going to start massively turning out its MM touch panels in the second quarter, which, mostly 5, 7 and 10 inches in size, will be initially shipped to customers of tablets and smartphones in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China. As one of Samsung's suppliers of touch panels, JTouch is trying to supply Gear Fit, a smart watch built with curved touch screens.

SNW and MM NPD, according to market research firm DisplaySearch based in Japan, have emerged as trendsetting technologies for touch panels. DisplaySearch said that touch panels produced with the two technologies feature better performance and flexibility than conventional models with ITO glass, ideal for use in wearable devices with curved touch screens.

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