About two years ago [already? sheesh], I tried to build my own smartwatch. I wasn't so arrogant as to think I was going to figure out what the other market entrants hadn't; it was really just for fun. But I would be telling lies if I didn't admit that I thoguht I had an original angle. My thought was, a smartwatch is a losing proposition. Watches are jewelry. I don't wear any more jewelry on my fingers than my wedding band, and no more on my wrists or even my whole body than a watch, but even I have a handful of watches I swap out to fit my mood/clothing choices. Trying to replace that set of watches with a set of smart watches would be cost prohibitive, and trying to design a smartwatch that was configurable to the extent that it could adapt to my mood/wardrobe seems about as easy as designing a cold fusion device.
So my approach was to build a smart other accessory: an armband. Yes, I "innovated" by splitting hairs between an armband and a watch. But seriously, the idea was that you could wear this further up your arm, closer to your elbow, and keep it tucked away beneath your long-sleeved shirt. My hope was that a small LED matrix could be just bright enough that you could read your watch through your shirt, like some sort of spy.
Send your pre-order checks to... No? Okay. Well, it was a fun project. Couldn't get an LED matrix small enough, and the OLED screen I settled for wasn't bright enough to get through most shirts. Also, it was a dumb idea.
The fine folks at Montblanc, though, were a few thousands steps ahead of me (if a few years behind me—ouch), and figured out a much more elegant solution—potentially. They have come up with the smartwatch-band.
Oddly enough, there's no mention of this anywhere on montblanc.com, as of yet. This announcement apparently came at a tradeshow, covered by A Blog to Watch (get it?), which notes that this isn't the first design of this type on the market, actually.
A strap like this, that could be mated with your existing collection of watch faces, seems like a much more compelling design to actual watch-owners. I do have concerns, though, namely
- Where is the battery? Can't possibly be big enough to last a reasonable amount of time.
- That's the part of the watch that, for me at least, gets the most damage. How do you build something that's going to be robust, yet light, scratch-resistant, yet interactive (Apple's digital crown comes to mind)?