September 14, 2015  ·  design  ·  tech

Sony Wena: Analog watch, digital band

The Wall Street Journal reported last week on a really interesting approach Sony is taking to the smartwatch. Instead of trying to replace the face with a digital touchscreen, which watch enthusiasts will probably never embrace, their idea is to pack the watch's smart functionality into the band and in particular the clasp. Wireless payments are handled thus by passing your wrist over the merchant's receiver, the usual activity log data is transmitted to your phone, and a 7-colour LED strip with vibration alerts you to your chosen types of notifications.

There are naturally a lot of less-than-perfect aspects of the execution of this, starting with the idea of a multibillion-dollar company crowdfunding product development and not insignificantly making it incompatible with the brand's own telephones. But the idea has a ton of merit and you could envision a path to turning this into a winning product:
  1. Offer it just as a watch band in standard sizes that will work with your existing timepiece. The Seiko-designed watch Sony has incorporated comes in two perfectly presentable variants, but this goes next level when you can get a stainless strap to attach to your Omega or IWC.
  2. Expand the LED notification display from a light into a small touchscreen display strip—maybe not the size of the whole clasp, but big enough to show a caller's name, email subject, first line of text message, and accept 2-3 touch zones and a couple of swipe actions.
  3. Make it Android compatible so it works with Sony Xperia phones. Obviously. C'mon.
Then we're in.

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