Smart Watches are big business in 2014. Combining the latest in display technology, with miniaturized computing that has been pioneered in smartphone devices seems like a good bet. However, despite the large number of these products that have been released, limiting factors like size and battery life have left them being little more than expensive novelties. However, while we may not yet have the advanced technology that could make a successful smartwatch, there are still ways to improve the watch using technology.
One great example of this is Sony’s new watch concept, the FES watch. As a device, this is not so much an example of something which brings forward a wealth of new functionality, but rather one that takes a classic form, and makes it yet more versatile. Utilising E Ink technology this device is almost exactly that same as a normal watch, with the small exception that the entire watch face and band is a screen.
E-Ink technology is not new, but it has certainly come of age in recent years. Starting with e-readers like the Kindle, before moving into tablets like the Digital Paper, and watches like the Pebble, this technology is improving and becoming more versatile. While normal LED screens consumer vast amounts of power, E Ink displays need orders of magnitude less. In addition, while they are generally only restricted to black and white, the images they produce are much more pleasing to the eye than modern LED displays.
In the FES watch E Ink is used to create a fashionable wearable device which can literally change its entire appearance at will. As well as choosing from a number of different custom watch faces, a user of the watch can also change the look of the band and clasp of the watch, making it able to morph to different settings. While this would be hugely draining for a normal screen, E Ink enables this device to go a massive 80 days on a single battery charge.
Another interesting thing about this device is the fact that Sony tried to hide the fact that it was behind this device. Rather than developing it in house, the company took to Japanese crowdfunding website Makuake to pitch the product, as if it was coming from a small startup calling itself ‘Fashion Entertainments’. The product quickly made its funding target, and it was only after investigation by the Wall Street Journal that the Sony connection was found.
While it is unknown if this product will be highly successful or not, it hopefully represents a change of thinking at the tech giant. Despite strong sales of the PS4, the company is still not doing well financially, and desperately needs new ideas to keep it afloat.