Sony Corporation looks to be answering Apple’s Watch with a new type of smartwatch, one with a face and wristband made of e-paper. While the exact terms used to describe the Sony smartwatch did not actually state it would be made from e-paper, the device was said to be made with a material that would allow for the entire surface of the device to act as a display and change the appearance. This new product could hit shelves as early as next year.
Apple made a splash with the announcement of the Watch earlier this year, which is slated for an early 2015 release. The Watch is Apple’s answer to Samsung’s Galaxy wearables. The device from the iPhone maker will connect wearers with their phones, and Apple branded computers and more. Sony is already in the smartwatch game, but the news of this new potential offering could be the most unusual of them all.
A device made of e-paper would have a number of advantages over OLED and LCD displays. Less power consumption would offer longer battery life, which displays are known for being power hungry, draining batteries quickly. There would be a larger usable display, not just on the face of the watch, but also onto the band itself, something Apple, Samsung, and other smartwatch makers do not offer.
Apple’s version has three different models of its Watch set to release in 2015, from a basic model to a sport model and a fashion model. The potential e-paper smartwatch could offer users to totally change the look of their smartwatch, from band to face with the swipe of a finger, whereas Apple and Samsung have a standard looking band.
Sony’s e-paper smartwatch is set to fast track and potentially give Apple and other smartwatch makers a run, if it takes on any promising life at all. The new and exciting product is supposedly under development in a new division at Sony. Reportedly, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai created the new division to fast-track these new products, indicating that the e-paper smartwatch would be the first product offered. However, it appears the electronics guru has been developing it in secret for a while.
The latest smartwatch from Sony, the SmartWatch 3, was released this past September. It sported a 1.6” display sporting a 320×320 resolution. A quad-core ARM A7 processor powered the watch along with 512 mb of RAM. Internal storage comes in at 4 gb and the watch was full of a number of sensors and communication options standard with smartwatch offerings. The SmartWatch 3 runs Android 4.3 and works with Android Wear.
It is unclear what features an e-paper smartwatch would offer, but Sony may take on Apple if they can produce a usable device. Fashion Entertainment (FES) is apparently the new division for Sony. And it looked like Sony was trying to be sly with the development of the watch, using a Japanese crowdfunding website to fund the e-paper watch without the company name being used. Now that the cat is out of the bag, the PlayStation maker is taking a gamble on a smartwatch that could put the digital wearable market on its ear.
By Carl Auer