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Why haven’t smartwatches become the hot new category?
“Everyone knows they’re ugly,” and what purpose do they serve?
That’s how Ray Fischer, the co-owner of smartwatch startup Momentum Labs, characterized the smartwatch scene for VentureBeat.
To combat both ugliness and purposelessness, Momentum Labs has designed its upcoming Moment Smartwatch with features found on few, if any, competitors:
- A stainless steel, high-style wristband that provides a 360-degree, multipoint touch, 150 DPI electrophoretic screen over the entire surface — which, Momentum Labs said, is about the same surface area as many smartphones. The goal for the stylishness, the company said in its announcement, is to be “a watch you would wear even if its only function was to tell time.”
- A full QWERTY keyboard with number row on the wristband screen. “You have to twist your wrist slightly to use the keyboard,” Fischer told us. “It’s not as inconvenient as you’d think.”
- An app for a smartphone to write predefined messages for the watch, for quick responses to IMs, texts, and other communications.
- Thirty days of battery life on one charge.
- “Snapware” — small hardware modules from the maker and third parties that add new functions.
- The capability to use the watch as a remote control for a variety of light fixtures, peripherals, and other devices.
The bad news? It doesn’t exist yet.
R&D on the watch is about 80 percent completed, Fischer said, while the rest cannot be finished until production begins. On June 24, the 14-month-old company — consisting of five staffers with backgrounds in medical and consumer products who are based in Athens, Ohio, and Hong Kong — will launch a campaign on crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise at least $300,000 for tooling and parts needed in an initial production run of at least 500.
Nor are the above features all that Momentum Labs is promising.
“It is a notification center, [has] an option to be a step meter, a hardware [platform] for health monitoring in the future,” Fischer added. The idea was not to compete with a smartphone, the company said, but to provide functions for when it is “inconvenient, unnecessary, unsafe, rude or simply not allowed to pull your smartphone from your pocket or purse.”
Messages are read on the inside of one’s wrist for privacy and ease of use, and are received and sent via a paired smartphone. There’s also a motion sensor, dual-mode Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart (low energy), an audible alarm, a vibration motor, USB Micro-B connector, and a weight estimated below 100 grams. The company said the retail price will be $230, and initial colors will be a white lens on gold metal and a black lens on silver, in a variety of sizes.
Why buy this watch and not another?
The reason would be identical “to any reason you’d buy any smartwatch” Fischer told us, “but we do it better.”