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  1.    #1  
    Hi all,

    Here is a little more about the HP watch that Phil teased us with!

    Take care,


    The Wristwatch Is Reimagined. Will Young Shoppers Care?By RANDALL STROSS, March 19, 2011

    HOW many tiny keypad buttons can fit on one wristwatch? At least 28. That’s the number that Hewlett-Packard packed onto its first watch, the HP-01, in 1977. It was such a strange hybrid of watch and algebraic calculator that calling it a mere watch or a calculator would not do it full justice. So HP called it a “wrist instrument.”

    It was a commercial flop.

    Years later, the cellphone would become an ubiquitous, multifunctional device that, incidentally, showed the time. As a result, many people younger than a certain age have never acquired the habit of wearing a wristwatch. That’s hardly news, but here’s what does surprise: H.P. and a few other companies are talking up wristwatches again, almost as if the cellphone had never appeared. It’s an idea that strikes me as oblivious to the consumer electronics landscape.

    Last month at an H.P. event in Shanghai, Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer of the company’s personal systems group, displayed the MetaWatch, a prototype developed by Fossil that he described as the first generation of “the connected watch.”

    This version has Bluetooth, but the long-term vision is to give it the wireless capability to be the hub of every Internet-ready portable device you own — phone, laptop, tablet. The MetaWatch would be “the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot on your wrist,” Mr. McKinney said in the presentation.

    During an interview this month, he told me that he gave a talk in 2006 about his conception of the “connected watch” of the future. At the time, wireless carriers were saying that all kinds of digital devices, including laptops, would join cellphones in having their own built-in wireless radios for connectivity.

    “Why not take all the radios and aggregate them into one device?” he suggested then. That one device would be the wristwatch.

    It was an idea, nothing more. But last year, Mr. McKinney said, he received a call from Fossil. Executives there had heard his 2006 presentation, had been captivated by the vision, and had set about building two prototype watches — one with hands and another with digital numbers. It was the one with hands that he showed in Shanghai.

    In our conversation, I told him that so little information could be displayed on the watch’s face — there is a small, scrollable window at the top and another one at the bottom — that it seemed nearly useless. But he said it would be enough for alerts, able to notify the wearer, for example, “when you’ve got 4 more e-mails, 3 Facebook updates and 10 Tweets.” He said buttons on the watch could be programmed to dispatch canned responses.

    Mr. McKinney, who is 50, said that young consumers who are unaccustomed to wearing watches would still find the MetaWatch appealing. They’d use it, he said, for purposes other than timekeeping. “I hit a button and — boom — I’m checked in at Foursquare,” he offered as an example.

    Has Fossil, the watch’s developer, tested the concept on focus groups or done other market research? Does it have definite plans to bring it to market? It’s not clear. Fossil declined a request for an interview or for comment. Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst of the NPD Group, does not see the product’s appeal. The MetaWatch, he said, “was the right idea — five years ago.”

    “But we now have a communications hub: the smartphone,” he added. “Technology has passed the MetaWatch by.”

    Over all, the casual-watch market in the United States has hardly shriveled. According to NPD’s data, the industry had sales of about $2.35 billion in 2010, up 4 percent from 2008. In those two years, sales were up 33 percent within the 35-to-44 age group and 104 percent for those 65 and older.

    Sales to the 18-to-24 age group, however, fell 29 percent. And Mr. Cohen says he doesn’t think that many of today’s young adults will ever adopt the watch-wearing habit.

    Catherine Moellering, executive vice president at Tobe, a retail consulting firm, does see a new interest in watches among 11-to-17-year-olds, but she says it derives from novelty.

    “The watch had disappeared so completely to these young consumers that today they could discover watches as if they had never been around before,” she said. Still, she said, this inexpensive accessory has uncertain prospects of leading to a lifetime habit.

    Watches have always been a fashion accouterment as well as a utilitarian instrument. But Ms. Moellering sees young consumers paying less attention not only to watches, but also to the entire world of fashion. Fashion “is not as exciting as technology,” she said. “No store at the mall is as full as the Apple Store.”

    Apple does not sell a watch, but you can buy watchband kits from LunaTik that are designed to hold a current-generation iPod Nano on the wrist. But the Nano has no wireless capabilities.

    ANOTHER company, Allerta, has a Bluetooth-enabled watch that can be programmed to show alerts and brief text messages — not unlike those imagined by Mr. McKinney — that draw upon a nearby smartphone or PC.

    But do we need alerts? Messages of all kinds are coming into our smartphones — we know that without having to check. So wearing a second device to tell us to look at the first device seems superfluous.

    Such a watch will supply information about information. Meta indeed. 

    Randall Stross is an author based in Silicon Valley and a professor of business at San Jose State University. E-mail:
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  2. #2  
    this is a great concept but sad that it has to be from a certain Steve Jobs to get any media attention...

    Here's hoping WebOS pioneers the way for this..
  3. #3  
    i didn't know phil mentioned making the watch "a mobile wi-fi hotspot" and aggregating all radios into it. Battery implications aside, this concept could turn the cellphone manufacturer/carrier structure on its ear.

    it would be neat if i could buy a single device, that has all 3g, 4g, blu tooth, and wifi radios in it and that would be my only tie to the carrier. I could then buy the actual interactive device directly from the manufacturer and not have to worry about manufacturer carrier/agreements determining whether or not my phone will work on the network or upgrade requirements.
  4.    #4  
    Hi all,

    1. Most younger tech-no savvy people that I know stopped wearing a watch b/c there is a clock built into the basic of cell phones...that is the case of my G/F.

    2. I stopped wearing a watch on my arms and went to a clip on belt type of watch b/c due to my spinal surgeries, my arms swell during the later portion of the day, making a watch very uncomfortable. I also have to say that number 1 applies as well... I have been using a smart phone for years and years...(some time in the latter part of 2002 I think) a clock/watch was always at hand.

    take care,

    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  5. #5  
    This will be a dud. its RARE to see a watch these days. Even my dad (who WAS an avid watch wearer) said he stopped wearing one because there was no need....he has his clock AND his calendar on his phone....why have a watch on too?
    Motorola i710 > Motorola i760 > Samsung M520 > Palm Pre
  6. #6  
    I too think the watch will be a dud, but I like the idea of having something other than my phone be my hub of connectivity.

    I think they went w/ a watch because its something that would always be attatched to your person. Then your phone calls, texts, data connection etc can be pushed to whatever devices you have it wirelessly tethered to ('phone', tablet, pc) etc...

    -- Sent from my Palm Pre using Forums
  7. #7  
    I'm skipping the smart watch and holding out for high-tech implants.
  8. #8  
    I want my car radio to be my hub of connectivity because it has the biggest battery... and it is self-charging when I drive.

    When I read this I kept thinking about how anything that is going to be the "hub" or central componant of something would need to always be with me and always have plenty of battery. A wrist watch with all those radios would need to always have a source of power, and not run so hot as to singe the hair on my arm.
  9. Honis's Avatar
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    I stopped wearing a wrist watch shortly after I went to college. The poor posture I used to type made my wrist rest on the watch band making it very uncomfortable. On top of that my feature phone at the time was easy enough to access when I needed to know the time. Now that I have a better typing posture I could start using a watch again. While I can see where a connected watch would come in handy I'd prefer one that just vibrated or chimed when I was receiving a phone call or message. I'm in more situations where I can't see, feel or hear my phone vibrate than I am where I'd need to glance a message.

    A radio hub would be nice, but I'm not going to wear a pipboy so that it can have enough juice to last a day. My launch day pre can go days without data radios on and only hours with them on. I'd hate to see how long a watch battery will last. There's ways to alleviate the battery drain I guess: tap phone to watch face to turn the connectivity on and off, send a system text to activate the radio to receive new mail or other data related notifications, radio turning on and off periodically, etc.
    I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.
    Device history: *free feature Phone*x3 -> LG Rumor -> Palm Pre -> HTC Arrive (3days) -> Samsung Nexus S 4G (28 days) -> Samsung Galaxy S II Sprint Epic 4G Touch -> Palm Pre -> Pre 3

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