Sometimes a smartphone is just too bulky. You might not want to pull a 4-inch phone out of your pocket just to check the time, the weather, or even to see if you have any missed calls. For those a watch might be a better tool. A watch is strapped to your wrist so it can provide basic information at a glance. However, on its own a watch can’t do much more than keep track of the date and time. To provide any other kind of information it needs a way to receive data.
A few years back Microsoft attempted to provide more data to watches with a technology they called SPOT. SPOT used an FM radio carrier to beam information to watches and other small consumer electronics devices. SPOT watches were big and clunky, their usable range was limited, and they had to be recharged every few days. They also had an annual service plan that cost around US$50 for the basic version — more the the full version.
With more and more smartphones coming with data plans, the very limited SPOT service was over-priced and under-featured. The SPOT service was subsequently cancelled.
With SPOT gone there was a hole to fill. Sony Ericsson tried to integrate Bluetooth into a few of their watches in an attempt to display basic information, but they haven’t done a very good job yet. Their latest attempt, with all its potential, failed miserably.
With the stage set, Fossil has stepped up to the challenge and is readying two Bluetooth-enabled watches, an analog version with a small digital display, and an all digital version with a large (and always on) display.
If their plan holds true in addition to Bluetooth their watches will include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, rechargeable battery, stainless steel case, leather strap, and will be water resistant to three ATM.
More information will be forthcoming at Google IO later this month. Fossil, don’t let us down!