Pocket-sized computers, video telephone calls, the ability to connect to world from anywhere – without a cord or cable in sight. It’s the stuff of ‘50s-era sci-fi or detective serials.
Like so much technology these days, what’s old is new again. Add to that the smart watch.
A host of companies are planning the release of watches that connect to the Internet – and bring the power of a smartphone to a wristwatch-sized device. The concept already has drawn ample comparisons to the watch worn by police detective Dick Tracy.
Sony, Apple, even Google have announced or launched smartwatches. The Pebble uses a host of custom apps – a new category called “micro apps” – to maximize its functionality. Cyclists, runners, golfers and others can use the device to track performance metrics. Most interface with the smartphone to mimic features, like controlling music or other applications.
Later this year, Neptune will release the Neptune Pine. Unlike many smart watches, the Pine will deliver smartphone functionality – without the smartphone. Montreal-based Neptune Computer calls the Pine the “world’s first independent smart watch.” The watch doesn’t pair with a phone; it is a phone. It uses a micro-SIM card to replace the smartphone. It will support quad-band GSM / GPRS / EDGE, 3G, 802.11 WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The price: Around $335.
The Pine will have a 2.5-inch touchscreen; the company is developing a virtual QWETY keyboard. Make phone calls, send emails, play music and video, browse the internet and navigate with GPS. Pine also will feature a five-megapixel Recondite camera for photos and video, and will include a heart rate monitor, FM radio and digital compass. Running on modified Android 4.0, it will support Android apps, and may offer waterproofing and near-field communications.
How or whether these devices will weave their way into daily life in the near-term isn’t yet known. Few are stand-alone devices, like the Pine, so they’ll be accessories that duplicate the functionality of the smartphone. For many tech-sumers, smartphones already have replaced the wristwatch as a timepiece. So adding it back in for Wow! Factor alone might not lure buyers. At least, early on…
Yet just as the wireless phone went from being tethered to a car to mere ounces in a pocket, it’s probably wise not to bet against a fully-functional phone small and stylish enough to earn a place on your wrist.
Time will tell.
Jeff Zbar is a veteran technology columnist, subject matter expert and the founder of ChiefHomeOfficer.com, a site dedicated to home-based business owners, teleworkers and road warriors – and the technology that empowers the modern mobile and remote workplace.