Many of the crowd-funded smartwatches are similar in functionality, purpose and support. But the EmoPulse Smartwatch appears to be the most different from the pack. For starters, the Linux-based EmoPulse comes in a flexible-screen, wrap-around formfactor that combines the wristband and clock face into the same object. The screen is closer in size to a small smartphone than a large wristwatch. It can be used to either connect to a smartphone, or it can be used as a stand-alone gadget.
The EmoPulse also seems to have a lot of electronics, including three cameras -- one for “face tracking,” another for taking HD pictures and video and a third for scanning documents -- sensors that enable it to monitor your sleep and other health indicators. It has up to 256 GB of storage, plus a SIM card slot, a USB 3.0 port and even a Thunderbolt port and a SIM card slot for the phone function.
If the EmoPulse takes the maximum approach, a watch called the Martian Smartwatch takes a minimal approach. The top two-thirds of the watch is actually an analog watch with physically moving hands and everything. Within the bottom third is a very small rectangular screen that can display a few characters, telling you who’s calling or texting and giving a little more cryptic information.
The Martian has no touchscreen, but physical, traditional buttons on the sides of the watch. The best thing about it is that it can be used as a speakerphone and voice-command interface. Unlike most of the devices in this column, the Martian is shipping now and for $249.
A Chinese watch called the GEAK Smartwatch is essentially a counterfeit Sony SmartWatch from a hardware design perspective. It has a touch screen and pairs with a nearby phone. Additionally, the GEAK supports WiFi and is supposed to have a fast processor clocked at 1 GHz. It’s supposed to ship in July in China and cost $325.
A crowdfunded effort called the Androidly Smartwatch, developed in the UK, is supposed to run apps like any Android phone can, directly on the watch’s two-inch 320x240 screen. It’s basically a small Android phone that you wear on your wrist. It’s small for a phone but huge for a watch.
Another watch called the AGENT Smartwatch recently emerged on Kickstarter. The waterproof, smartphone-connecting watch uses e-Ink and performs all the expected tasks of displaying texts, social messages and caller ID information. The developers claim long battery life and wireless charging.
If you were thinking that the smartphone revolution isn’t going to happen, this column should change your opinion. The forms, features and functions of these watches are powerful, useful and varied.
And yes, when the consumer electronics giants finally jump in with their offerings, and start pouring millions of dollars into marketing and advertising, this category is going to get very real starting this year’s holiday season.
So if you’re a watch salesman, you might want to keep your job.