The (Mostly) Unknown Upcoming Smartwatch Competitors
The smartwatch craze is beginning; the Samsung Galaxy Gear was released last year and the Apple Watch is scheduled for release in early 2015. Both of these devices seem to follow the same guiding principle of bringing smartphone capabilities to a device resembling a traditional wristwatch. The dismissive and skeptics have issued their criticisms of the emerging technology mostly summing up to “why can’t my watch just be a watch?” and “the screen is way too small, why wouldn’t I just use my phone?” While the true impact and validity of such criticism has yet to be fully realized, not all smartwatches have followed the same model. Two upcoming products seem to approach the idea of a smartwatch from a completely different direction. Does a smartwatch have to offer capabilties traditionally associated with a smartphone? Further, does a smartwatch even have to be limited to the traditional watchface design? The Cicret Bracelet and the FES Watch both reject the norm and bring new smartwatch designs to the forefront.
This past September, the FES Watch raised over 2,000,000 yen(approx. $16,742.70 USD) in under 3 weeks on the Japanese crowdfunding site, Makuake. The watch incorporates modern technology with traditional watch functionality by offering the wearer the ability to alter the appearance of both the face and band of the watch with the press of a button. The popular Apple/Samsung idea of a smartwatch is that only the face of the watch is alterable, but the FES Watch takes a different route, allowing customization of the entirety of the watch by utilizing e-ink. E-ink offers digital display with a matte book-like appearance and has been recently popularized by the Amazon Kindle. Aside from customizing the appearance, the FES Watch does not offer the wearer any additional smart capabilities making the device a simple modern adaptation of a traditional watch. FES is also currently researching further incorporating e-ink with fashion by investigating applications such as bowties.
The Circret Bracelet takes the opposite approach of the FES Watch by offering all smartphone functionality to the wearer without requiring the wearer to take their smartphone out of their pocket. While several products have aimed to present smartphone functionality on a screen resembling the face a wristwatch, the Circret Bracelet instead projects the wearer’s smartphone screen onto their forearm. So imagine a band resembling a “Livestrong” band that displays a smartphone on the arm of the wearer. To interact with the smartphone, the user then taps their forearm as if it were the screen of a traditional smartphone.
While neither device has been given a specific release date, expect both devices in the near future. The FES Watch and Cicret Bracelet seem to offer something different and unique, but only time will tell how the devices will stack up against the more mainstream smartwatches being offered by Samsung and Apple.