In its bid for the wearables market, Sony Corp. is developing a watch made out of electronic paper for release as soon as next year, reported Bloomberg. Although not yet officially announced, the move is considered a trial of the company’s new venture-style approach to creating products.
The face and wrist band of the watch will be made from a patented material that lets the surface area of each function as a display and change its appearance. Sources with information about the watch told Bloomberg the device will emphasize style over technological innovations more closely associated with Apple’s watch and Sony’s own SmartWatch, they said.
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai formed a business creation division this year to fast-track promising products, and the watch is one of the division's first results. The goal of the new unit, which Hirai is supervising personally, is to come up with products and services that don’t fit the mold of Sony’s existing businesses.
The e-paper watch will be a major test for Sony’s new division. Though only 22 million wearable gadgets have been sold worldwide this year, experts say the industry is set to grow.
Focusing on appearance over technology could help distinguish Sony’s e-paper watch from many such devices, which mostly serve as second screens for smartphones. Sony’s SmartWatch acts as a music player remote control, and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear offers hands-free calls, but both require smartphones.
Consumers surveyed by Nomura Research Institute pointed to how unattractive wearables are as one of the biggest obstacle to adoption, after price and weight. Apple will offer a choice of stainless steel, aluminum and 18-karat gold when the Apple Watch goes on sale next year.
Daniel Matte, an analyst with Canalys, told us that consumers should be careful about expecting too much from the new Sony offering. "Often claims of e-paper, such as for the Pebble Watch, are actually LCD," he said. "And these rumors seemingly aren't specifying any particular solution."
Matte pointed to the Sony’s announcement in March of its Digital Paper, which it touted as the first device to use a flexible e-ink display. "If [Sony’s watch] is real and uses a flexible display, however, it very likely wouldn't be LCD," he added. "I would imagine the image quality and display utility are rather lacking."
In addition to the e-paper watch, Hirai’s group is developing technology designed to help professionals and amateurs rapidly create prototypes of new products. The division includes Sony’s Seed Acceleration Program aimed allowing any employee with a good idea to pitch for venture financing.
Hirai has had mixed results in turning Sony around. The company will probably have accumulated more than $8.5 billion in losses since 2010 by the end of this year. Recent reports indicated that Sony would slash its TV and mobile phone lineups to cut costs, focusing instead on bringing in revenue from its PlayStation 4 video game console and image sensor businesses.
Posted: 2014-11-27 @ 12:49am PT
Make a $1700 60p 4k large sensor camcorder and everyone in the industry will buy 3 immediately!