Pebble gained some serious press from a highly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012. Their smartwatch promised integration with both the iPhone and Android phones via Bluetooth 4.0. As with many Kickstarter projects that receive an overwhelming response, the company ran into shipping and production delays.
Fast forward to CES and Pebble announced they will begin shipping the 85,000 watches from backers on January 23rd.
The new generation smartwatch enables some compelling features. It will have the ability to display actual alerts on the display for caller ID, email, calendar notifications, Facebook messages, Tweets, Gtalk alerts, imessage notifications, weather alerts and a vibrating alarm clock. These are just a few of the standard alerts and many others are on the way with the open SDK for developers. Software updates are able to be pushed to an app on your phone that easily updates the watch via bluetooth.
The hardware was able to gain a few features due to the shipping delay. The 1.26-inch backlit e-paper display (144 x 168) is easy to read in light or dark environments. The accelerometer and magnetometer (think compass) will adapt to certain wrist movements. Battery life is expected to be around 7 days and the charger has a magnetic connection to the side of the watch. It will also bring a scratch proof face along with a waterproof design.
Another new watch that was born via Kickstarter is the lesser known CooKoo. It is a minimal feature interactive device that offers icon based alerts letting you know something is waiting for you on the phone. Integration is limited to the iphone 4s and 5 and will not work with Android. While it does not require recharging any battery the trade off for less functionality is a significant one.
Casio also brings a simple more traditional looking watch in its G-Shock. The current version is only available for iOS, but the company hopes to bring Android syncing within 6 months. The simple notifications also seems less than stellar after seeing newer competition and especially so for $180 price point.
The oddly named i’m watch also had a product refresh to display at CES. Their i’m Droid 2 is stated as being the “the world’s most advanced smartwatch operating system.” It’s main differentiating feature is the voice input capability through the integrated microphone. I’m also brings an entire app catalog to its list of features. The accelerometer and magnetometer compliment the open sensors ability. Third party apps can connect to many things like pedometers and heart-rate monitors via the sensor.
Battery life is less than the Pebble with getting only 24 to 48 hours on a single charge in standby mode. The prime reason for this is the 1.54” color TFT display and having a speaker built in. You gain color for apps like Instagram, but at a significant price. It is compatible with both iOS 4+ and Android 4.0+ devices.
The smartwatch market is not exactly new, but the scene is definitely changing. Older pioneers like the Metawatch and Motoactv set some great standards, but new competition is bringing out much needed ability. It still feels a little too infant with looks and features, but it’s better than the original calculator watch days.
Android-powered Smart Watch called I’m Watch. The watch will be available in the coming months.
Cookoo Analog Smart Watch
Remember the Cookoo smart watch? For those who don’t know, ’tis an analog watch with a notification display plus Bluetooth 4.0 low energy connectivity, and it prides itself for its much longer battery life compared to other smart watches.