Watch out for cellular watches


I had a thought the other day that the next revolution in mobile handsets is going to come in the form of cellular watches. This thought came to me when I saw the latest prototype pic of this gigantic mobile thing strapped to someone's wrist and I thought, no way. That's not going to happen - it's way too big. Trying to cram in the functionality of a smart phone on someone's wrist is just dumb. The watch phones I'm envisioning are going to be the size of Microsoft's SPOT watches. Just a little too big, but with full-color screens and basic cellular and mobile data functionality.

Think about Nokia's "ImageWear" products. These are devices that you strap around your neck which can show different pictures you've taken with your camera phone. The "medallian" in the pic above only stores 8 photos and you send it the device via infrared, but it's an interesting start. Why does that sort of functionality have to be trapped in necklace form? What about that same sort of thing on your wrist?

Actually, it would need a lot *more* than that functionality which would definitely be a challenged. And there might be problems with battery weight. Take the battery out from your SonyEricsson T610 and hold it in your hand. Better yet, take a rubber band and strap it to your wrist. That's not bad. But add the battery back and woof- too heavy. But I think that putting all the functionality that's in the T610 or a Nokia S40 phone in that small of a package would be possible.

And that's why I think we're going to see something like this soon. A device that's both a fashion-item and a functional phone is a pretty big sweet-spot. If it doesn't look like a hockey puck, it'd be a real winner. Now there'd obviously need to be some solutions to the dialing problem - maybe a ring of number buttons around the outside of the device? A dialing ring? (Move the ring, click, move the ring, click). Maybe just a basic updown jog button where you can select from a pre-made (synced with your PC address book) address list or slowly choose the number...

Now the key to this device, of course, would be Blueooth support. Now this is where I'm hesitant because I've got a Jabra Bluetooth headset and it's 1) bulky and 2) sucks battery like crazy. But how else would you talk on it? Speaker phone? Push to talk? That might work. How about this solution, when you get a call, you rotate the face of the watch around so that it's on the bottom of your wrist, then you cup your hand to reflect the sound that comes out of a speaker at the top, and you speak into the bottom. Do it now with your hand and you'll see what I mean. The only problem with this is that I wear my watch on my left hand and usually talk with my right ear. Hmm.

Anyways. Look for it. I'd say the market for non-smart phones is going to continue to exist, but the idea is that these phones are going to need to get smaller to be "cool" and there comes a point when it's so small you might as well just strap it to your body. Within a couple years the electronics will get small enough so that you could add a little camera on the watch as well and damn, before you know it, you're Dick Tracy.

What do you think the timeframe for this is? A year? Two? There are cell-phone watches that exist right now. I'm talkign about the color screen and functionality that's on your Series 40 phone, strapped to your wrist. You *know* deep inside Nokia someone's working on this right now...


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