Pranav Mistry is the Indian brain behind Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch

Last night Samsung unveiled its entry into a new product category of smartwatches with its Galaxy Gear. It wasn’t a well-kept secret with features and even photos of a prototype leaking days before the official launch event. But one secret not many knew before yesterday evening was the brains behind the Galaxy Gear. Meet Pranav Mistry, who now heads the Think Tank team at Samsung’s Research America division. For those who may recall, Mistry’s claim to fame is his SixthSense technology, which was also documented in a TED talk that has received over 1.5 million views.

Mistry, a Research Assistant and PhD candidate at MIT’s Media Lab, was born in Palanpur in Gujarat. He completed his masters of design from IIT Mumbai and followed it up with another masters degree in media arts and sciences from MIT. He also worked as a UX researcher with Microsoft.

“Our time is a time for crossing boundaries, a time for rethinking and revising old categories. I think the future of our digital world is not just about giving a new face, a new form to our existing digital devices. It is the creation of new experiences, new ways of interacting with real and digital,” Mistry said at the unveiling of the Galaxy Gear yesterday evening.

The Galaxy Gear is a good beginning for Mistry of making his concept of sixth sense in technology a reality. The first generation smartwatch has some nice touches that one can instantly recognize to be coming directly from Mistry. The Galaxy Gear has sensors that can decipher if the user is moving the watch close to the ear in the event of an incoming call and automatically receives the call.

“We have uniquely positioned the speakers and microphone so that you can talk as you would talk to the hand. It is such a natural gesture, just raise your hand to your ear and talk,” he gushed to the thousands sitting in the audience at a packed venue in Berlin.

The Galaxy Gear in Mistry’s mind is a marriage of a simple user experience with cutting edge technology. “The goal was to make it, well… a wearable. Unobtrusive, comfortable yet something out of sci-fi. We wanted to make a wearable that is designed for everyone. We took our inspiration from an object we have loved and relied on for over a century,” he said. “The strap is packed with technology from the next decade,” he added.

Whether the Galaxy Gear becomes a runaway hit or not is something that the market would decide. But it seems Mistry has finally found an avenue to make his dream a reality in the hands of millions of users. His famous TED talk from November 2009 follows below.