Billed as the ‘watch that understands time zones’, Seiko has created the first solar powered GPS watch that receives GPS signals and identifies the time zone, time and date data using four GPS satellites. The watch updates automatically once a day and also on demand. It’s named after the company’s 1969 predecessor which was the world’s first quartz watch. It will be released in the fall of 2012 with a price of around 2000-3000 euros. There will be five models with one special edition limited to 2500 units.
My earlier post on the Tik tok/Luna tik straps for the Apple Nano got a retweet by Bill Geiser who is a Vice President at Fossil:
@billg: RT @wristfashion: Why the race for the next gen watch will be won by something that is not a watch http://ow.ly/3cqNI
@wristfashion: @billg thanks for the retweet. I just saw your profile. you seem like you’re working on something very interesting.
@billg: @wristfashion time will tell….no pun intended :^)
@wristfashion: @billg honestly, i expected fossil to have been all over the next-gen watch category ages ago.
@billg: @wristfashion it’s all about market timing….the ‘connecting fabric’ has only recently fallen into place
Bill is responsible for exploring technology driven opportunities for watches at Fossil. According to his Linkedin profile:
“Low power wireless connections between phones, sensors, and watches will open large new markets for these things we wear on our wrists. In this scenario the ‘watch’ functions as a remote portal to our phone or nearby sensor. The goal is to simplify & enhance the user experience. Consider, for example, the hundreds of daily, actionable alerts that will soon hit your mobile device: voice calls, text messages, emails, LBS alerts, turn-by-turn directions, and much much more. A quick glance at your wrist to see if the alert requires immediate attention is far more convenient than pulling your phone out of your pocket, handbag, briefcase, or backpack…hundreds of times per day.”
Elsewhere on twitter he explains what he means by the ‘Connecting Fabric’:
@billg: @ARJWright Modu, IXI, Moto Offspring failed because connected devices need a connecting fabric first before devices happen; aka Android, iOS
So now that the ‘connecting fabric’ is here to stay, maybe we will see some exciting new developments on the horizon.
Bill Geiser later responded to this post:
Hi Adnan, Love your blog. I’d like to give credit where credit is due: Andreas Constantinou (@andreascon on Twitter)is the author of the ‘connecting fabric’ quote referenced above. I simply retweeted it because I believe he’s right.
In their battle against the onslaught of the cell phones, watches have always faced a uphill battle due to their limited screen sizes. Well, they might just be able to overcome it – Samsung is showing off a prototype phone with a flexible Oled display that can be folded. Now imagine a wristwatch the folds into a larger display.
Researchers at the University of Zurich have developed a nanotech fabric technology that repels water. The fabric is made from polyester fibres coated with millions of tiny silicone filaments and when water falls on it, it stays as spherical balls on top of it until they are rolled off like marbles. So water can easily bounce off the fabric without leaving a trace.
A ten week study funded by the copper industry has found that copper fittings such as taps and toilet seats helped reduce the presence of bugs like MRSA and C difficile. Even though the research was in the context of hospital wards, there is no reason why a copper wristlet couldn’t tout the same benefits. Read more.
Gizmodo points to a new 3d printer that makes the entire process even more affordable by using paper and common water based glue. The printer is called the Mcor Matrix and will be releasing soon. I hope to get my hands on one of these.
AU Optronics Corp of Taiwan has developed a 2.8-inch LCD panel that also has the function to scan a fingerprint in a few seconds after a finger is placed on it. This could potentially be a great addition to any medical device where you need to verify the owner of the data.
The LCD panel is mounted with optical sensors and a detection circuit. Each pixel is equipped with four sensors. The LCD panel is integrated with optical sensors and a detection circuit as the panel with the fingerprint scanning function. The sensors respond only to UV light and can also measure UV levels.
Liquavista, a spin-off of Philips Research Labs, has launched a new type of display for information devices like wristwatches and cellphones called the ColorBright.
Color Bright uses a patented electrowetting technology where a voltage is used to control a layer of colored oil.
The colored oil covers the background and acts a layer that can be switched on and off to reveal numbers, text or even graphics. You also have the freedom to define what part of the display you want to cover with the oil so its flexible and the display can be made invisible by matching the background (reflector) color of the display with that of the device so it disappears when its switched off.
The device is between two and six times brighter than the LCD and works well in ambient light. There are currently seven set of colors – black, blue, purple, green, cyan, a cross between pink and red, and yellow
Electronic paper as we currently know or see uses the electrophoretic process which is where pigment particles in a hydrocarbon oil are rearranged by electric charge. Electrowetting is also considered as electronic paper except its faster and if you ever envision a future where we would have video content on a paper like surface, it would be via the electrowetting process. A disadvantage though is that electrowetted displays still need power even when the display image is not changing, whereas electrophoretic displays do not. But some say that that this is only a disadvantage when images are frozen for long periods of time i.e. with posters or billboards. I’m not sure if this applies to watches or Liquavista’s version of it.
This launch is currently considered as Generation 1 so expect more.
Now imagine buying a watch that is made of a material that is 10 times lighter and 500 times stronger than steel and it’s last name is paper. A little hard to swallow?
Then meet ‘Buckypaper’, a material made from tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Currently it can only be made at only a fraction of its potential strength, in small quantities and at a high price. Currently, researchers are predicting that it revolutionize light, energy efficient aircraft and automobiles, but I can easily imagine a high-end luxury brand jumping on the bandwagon.
Who wouldn’t want to also add first wristwatch made of nanotech material to their resume?
Microsoft has developed an exciting new technology called SideSight that allows you to control a device with touch screen like gestures without the need of a touch screen surface. This is made possible via tiny optical sensors that interpret your finger movements near the device.
According to the team behind the project, touch screen can be impractical on wristwatches or other devices because there isn’t enough screen real estate and even if cases where the device is large enough to make it practical, the interacting fingers cover up parts of the display thus making it harder to see the results of an action.
With SideSight, devices with out touch screen interfaces could use similar or more complex gestures.
So, you could twist your hand on either side of the device to rotate objects on screen, pages could be panned and scrolled by moving a hand up and down and you could enter text and move the page at the same time using both hands.
The sensors can read inputs up to 10 centimeters away, just through reflected infrared light.
In the future, Sidesight may also be manufactured by printing organic sensors. This would allow sensors to be placed on the entire casing of the wristwatch.
An article about the Symbian Smart Phone Show mentioned that Ho-Soo Lee, executive vice president of mobile solutions at Samsung, demonstrated his company’s concept of what some future mobile devices might look like and was quoted to have said:
“Wearable devices resembling a wristwatch with a flexible display could monitor the user’s heart rate and body temperature, but still be capable of displaying real-time video content”