Sony’s latest wearable is a watch made of electronic paper (Wired UK)


The Wall Street Journal has uncovered Sony’s clandestine involvement in a smartwatch
project. Under the name Fashion Entertainment
(FES)
, the company has thrown an electronic paper watch into
the wearable product scrum.

All credit to Sony, the watch itself is very slick looking. It
overcomes many of the problems existing smartwatches on the market present — namely
that they are overly bulky and have naff battery lives. Electronic
paper, which is famously used in ebook readers to provide them with
long-lasting battery, should ensure that this device can keep
running for weeks on a single charge, rather than just a day or
two.

The downside, of course, is that this watch is not exactly
“smart”. It isn’t an internet-connected device and doesn’t have any
extraneous functions or features. It is simply a timekeeping
product — but one made using new technology and a new
material.

Sony secretly put the watch on a crowdfunding site in September,
not taking ownership of the product until this week. The device
surpassed its 2 million yen goal (£108,000), raising 3.5 million
yen (£188,000) in total.

“We hid Sony’s name because we wanted to test the real value of
the product, whether there will be demand for our concept,” a
person involved in the project told the WSJ. It might seem
unusual for a big brand like Sony to take to a crowdfunding site,
but it is becoming an increasingly useful way to test whether or
not there is a market for a product.

The electronic paper element of the design is not just
restricted to the watch face — it covers the strap too. This
allows wearers to choose from one of 26 different combinations of
face and strap designs. It’s slim and minimalist, and has something
of a next-generation Swatch Skin watch about it.

e-bow tieFES

The Sony team that created the watch is working on other
electronic paper products — including bow ties — with the aim of
redefining the material as a new type of fabric.

It’s not clear when exactly the watch will be available yet, but
those who backed the crowdfunding campaign have been told that they
will receive theirs after May next year, which gives us a fair idea
of how long we’ll be waiting. Most of the major tech companies have
been ploughing away for just over a year now trying to make an
impact in the smartwatch market, but with the likes of Apple and Intel yet to
release their own products, or products incorporating their
hardware, it’s still too soon to say who it is that will come out
on top.

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28 November 2014 | 4:34 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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