Post-Pebble‘s $10.2 million Kickstarter record, the smartwatch launches keep on coming. And coming. And coming. And coming. And probably coming next month, in Samsung’s ‘Galaxy Gear’ case. The latest wrist-affixed contender to step up for a slice of smartwatch pie is called Omate TrueSmart, and is the creation of a New York based startup.
Omate Kickstarter campaigned launched yesterday — and has already blasted passed the initial $100,000 funding target, with $144,000+ and counting. Not bad going for such a nascent yet crowded space.
So what’s the big deal about Omate? Notably it’s not just a smartphone accessory but includes a 3G radio so if you add a micro-SIM it can be a standalone mobile phone in its own right. Assuming you want to talk into your wrist. And even if you don’t it can function as a phone companion, using the on board Bluetooth 4.0 or Wi-Fi.
Omate also runs a relatively up-to-date version of Android, v4.2.2, skinned with a wrist-friendly UI of course, so that means four icons on the screen at once — although the platform is also open and hackable, according to its creators.
Running Android potentially means access to lots of apps — albeit, most are clearly going to need to be customised to fit its 1.54 inch screen (it’s up in the air whether Omate will have access to Google Play, at this point). The device will apparently come with a “full set of pre-qualified Android applications”, according to the listing, with no specific list as yet. Although “social media messaging” is mentioned in the listing and there’s a Facebook screenshot so that’s one heavy hint.
The Kickstarter campaign also mentions generic “sports apps”, and activity tracking is clearly a focus for Omate’s creators — likely so they can tap into the quantified health trend. The watch includes GPS — so would presumably be able to crunch basic activity data such as distance, pace etc. Add to that, it’s water-resistant (IP67) and dust-resistant so should take some rugged, outdoor use.
Also on board: a 5MP camera so you can snap up-nostril shots of yourself running to share to your social networks, presumably (Skype videocalling apparently won’t be supported).
The watch is powered by a dual-core 1.3GHz chip. Memory is 512MB with 4GB of storage, expandable by microSD up to 32GB. There’s no word on battery life if you’re actually using the watch but its 600 mAh cell is apparently good for up to 100 hours on standby. Eking decent battery life out of a wrist-mounted device remains a core challenge for smartwatches. The smartest smartwatch in the world is only going to be as useful as its useful battery life is long.
The Omate’s price tag is around the $199 mark, with all $179 early bird pledges gone and only a few remaining at the $189 level. Its makers rather ambitiously reckon they will be ready to ship the first batch to backers come October.
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