Aside from being a “watch guy” I’m also a bit of a tech geek, and as such I’ve been trying to pay attention to some of the announcements coming out of this year’s Consumer’s Electronics Show (CES), especially those related to watches. Given the technology nature of the convention it is natural to expect that these are not going to be your traditional take on watches, but instead will have your timekeeping combine with another set of features. Here’s a few that I have noticed this week.
The first is a a prototype smartwatch from Toshiba that will connect with your Android or iPhone. Unlike other watches like this (the Pebble, for example) the Toshiba prototype does not have an e-ink screen but rather an OLED color display and an Arm processor, similar to those found in many smartphones. From what the display on the CES floor said the watch will come in a variety of colors and strap options, and will have some sort of app store where you can get additional apps for the watch. As one would expect with a smartwatch once connected to your phone it will be able to display a variety of information: alert you to calls, emails, calendar notifications, and can pull in news, weather, & GPS directions. One bit of information missing, however, was a release date and pricing and no one was actually able to play with a working unit, which is a bit of a disappointment. It will be interesting to see if this one ever sees the light of day.
Another more simple option is the cookoo smartwatch that provides time with a notification feature. The watch raised its funding via Kickstarter and is being showed-off at CES this year. The cookoo is maybe a less-smart-smartwatch as it only provides notifications via icons on the watch dial. You can see that you have a call or message, for example, but not any details of those alerts. They call it “the watch for the connected generation” which may be a bit of a stretch given it’s limited functionality. It does have a more traditional watch appearance over many other smartwatch contenders, which may be more appealing to those that prefer the usual style.
On a completely different angle, rather than being a smartwatch Central Standard Timing was showing off an e-ink based watch that is an amazing .80 millimeters thin. They stated the watch was created by laminating flexible components together into a single piece of flexible stainless steel. It will come with a charging dock and can apparently charge within 10 minutes and a charge will last for a month. Well, it will, anyway, if they reach their Kickstarter funding goal. Beyond timekeeping, however, the watch does not have any other functions, so if you are looking for a watch that does a bit more you might want to pass. But, at $129 it still may be worth grabbing just for the cool factor.
For the outdoor sports enthusiasts Leikr was at CES this week showing off their (again, Kickstarter funded) GPS sportswatch. The first thing anyone will notice it’s it’s big, 2″ display that sits wide across the wrist. The display will allow for a lot of information to be shown off at once, including GPS signal, distance, pace, time and more. Also integrated into the watch is a color map pro right on the 2″, gorilla glass screen; handy to see if you need to go left or right at the next intersection. The watch is still currently seeking funding to go into production with $299 the price right now to get one when they roll off the assembly line.
Speaking of rolling off the line: way back in April I was one of those who jumped on the Pebble Kickstarter bandwagon, so I was excited to hear that they were holding an announcement at CES Jan. 9th at 9:00 AM PST. I was expecting to hear that they finally had an expected ship date set, which would be nice since they are now four months past the original shipping expectation, and I was not disappointed. Before they got to the date, however, they first showed off some of the specs and talked about the features of the watch: proprietary magnetic charging cable with the charge lasting up to a week; 22mm lugs so you can use any strap you choose; 5ATM water resistance (hence the magnetic charging) and an ambient light sensor that works by touching the case or a flick of the wrist and over-the-air updates via Bluetooth so Pebble can continue to expand the features of the watch. And the shipping date *drumroll* is January 23rd. Kickstarter backers should get an email a week before shipping to confirm their details, so I am hoping for an email on or around the 16th. You can be sure that once in hand Worn and Wound will provide you with a detailed review.
Technology and time continue to merge and walk down the same path as time goes on. Funny how we keep hearing the wristwatch is dead; it’s not dead, it’s just evolving.
* Toshiba photo by The Verge