Unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, the Italian-designed I’m Watch is powered by Google-developed operating system Android and features a music player; Twitter and Facebook capabilities; weather and an app store for additional functions.
It’s also Bluetooth-enabled so it displays the caller ID from your synced smartphone when someone calls.
The developments come after speculation that computer company, Apple, could launch an iWatch
with similar capabilities in 2012. If the speculation about an iWatch proves correct, it could be the greatest shake-up of the international watch market since the launch of the Swatch watch in 1983.
The recently concluded electronics event in Las Vegas saw companies, including Sony and I’m Watch, both reveal their forays into the smartwatch realm, with Sony set to release its SmartWatch in March.
The I’m Watch is an independent unit and can operate all its applications, including internet surfing and phone features, in a standalone mode.
A reviewer from News Pakistan, Usman Khalid, described the watch as a “hybrid of phone, wrist watch, music player and browser.”
“Although it is limited to a select few internet applications like RSS, Twitter, Facebook and email, it serves the purpose of a handy tech on the wrist,” Khalid said.
CBS News called this smart watch the “Armani” of its kind and said it’s nearly as big as an iPod Nano and is available in a variety of materials from aluminium to carbon and features an easy-to-use touch screen interface.
The company is currently taking pre-orders and hopes to start shipments during the first quarter of 2012.
While the reports of an iWatch are only speculation, and the I’m Watch has not yet shipped, it’s not the first time that a major computer company has entered the watch market. In October 2004 the Swiss watch behemoth Swatch, joined with its equivalent in the computer market, Microsoft, to announce the launch of the Swatch Paparazzi.
The Paparazzi was a smart watch and was based on Microsoft’s SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) technology and could be connected to MSN Direct. However, it was killed-off in April 2008 when Microsoft announced that it did “not have immediate plans to create a new version of the Smart Watch, as we are focused on other areas of our business.”
It’s arguable that ‘wearable computers’ have been a reality for some time given the variety of high-tech digital watches already on the market – the birth of smart watches could herald a new wave of competition in the international watch industry.