Do you remember Swatch? The watch company from the 80s that made some of the singularly coolest timepieces in the history of time? Back when our wrists donned more rubber than our cars, the Swatch was not just a means to a timely end, it was a fashion statement.
Everyone had one—or wanted one.
Fast forward to now and watches have taken a back seat to the mobile device. When you need to know the time, you whip out your smartphone. When you need to make a fashion statement, you dress up your device in colors and designs.
But then comes the smart watch—that wearable enigma that no one company has yet to figure out. Sure, some devices allow you to view your notifications and even, to a certain degree, interact. That "certain degree" has become the main stumbling block for wearables.
Oh yeah, and the battery. I've worked with the Moto 360—and watched the battery drain faster than a five year old car battery in the middle of winter.
If Swatch has anything to do with it, that will soon change.
Now, before we get into this, it must be mentioned that that all-seeing, all-doing, all-being Apple Watch will most likely include the ability to use Apple Pay (if you can figure out how to make it work in the myriad tools, configurations, and options).
With that said, Swatch has a little something up their sleeve that consumers might really, really like. They will be releasing two versions of their smartwatch—one with bluetooth and one with NFC. The Bluetooth version of the device will allow you to get notifications from your smartphone. The NFC version will allow you to set up mobile payments. You will not have both on a single device. Keep it simple, keep it relevant. Swatch will bring the ability to easily connect with mobile payment systems and pay for products without having to remove your wallet or your phone—and do so without getting bogged down with a massive amount of configuration options and features. Simplicity at its best. Just swipe your wrist over the point of sale device and you're paid in full.
Why is this so important? First and foremost—Swatch is the single largest maker of watches on the planet. They've been doing it for a very long time and know, without a doubt, what they are doing. Swatch knows time and knows what people want of their time pieces. That is why they have no intention of creating a device that can serve as a miniature smartphone on your wrist. This smartwatch will be a timepiece first.
The fun doesn't stop there.
Swatch's Tissot brand has already marketed touch screen watches since 1999. And Swatch recently developed a long-lasting, bendable battery. In fact, it is rumored that this new battery technology will eventually not even require charging. NOTE: How this is achieved is a mystery that Swatch is keeping close to the vest. Although this "magic" battery will not arrive on release, the battery contained within the 1.0 version is rumored to double the charge life of the current standard. Considering the rumored battery life of the iWatch is said to be around 3 hours, Swatch's new battery technology could easily help the smart Swatch Watch rise to the top.
So you add all of these together:
- The largest make of watches on the planet
- A long history with touch screens
- Incredible battery life
- Pared-down features
- Mobile pay
This will create the makings of, quite possibly, the perfect wearable.
What's best is that the "smart" Swatch Watch will be hitting the market in May 2015, according to CNET, so this isn't vaporware. This is happening and happening soon. And, if this is done in typical Swatch fashion, the device will not only be highly functional, but seriously fashionable.
But is it enough to bring true relevance and utility to the smart watch? I am fairly confident that if anyone can do this, Swatch can. With the ability to connect your Swatch device to a mobile pay system (through your Android and Windows phone), view notifications, and enjoy a viable battery life, the Swatch smartwatch will be a bit hit.
Should Apple be concerned? Yes. Should the makers of all other smartwatches be concerned? Yes. This new Swatch smartwatch could easily be, as the saying goes, a game changer—only this time, for real.
What do you think? Could Swatch actually bring a level of relevancy to the wearable that no other company has managed?
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.