2012
08.02

Metawatch is at it again. Following in the footsteps of Metawatch’s 2011 development models, the company last week announced its first consumer smartwatch: The Strata. Like the first Metawatch, Strata provides “hands freedom” by delivering vibrating alerts about activity on your smartphone to a handsome sports watch. This lets users choose at a glance whether they need to pull their smartphone out of their pocket to accept a call or reply to a text or wait until later, which saves time, conserves the phone’s battery, and eliminates much of the interruptive hassle smartphones can create.

Metawatch stepped up the Strata’s game with new features, including making the watch water-resistant enough to be worn while swimming, included running and cycling apps, Twitter integration, music controls, and configurable alerts for appointments, stock prices, weather, and more. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 to communicate with the smartphone and supports the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) standard as well, presumably for future integration to BLE-enabled fitness and health sensors.

The smartwatch arena heated up big-time this year, with Pebble’s record-breaking $10 million Kickstarter fundraise, Sony Ericsson’s SmartWatch, Motorola’s MOTOACTIV fitness tracker, and the WIMM One.  “We are well past the stage of wondering if there’s a market for smartwatches,” says Bill Geiser, Metawatch CEO.  “MetaWatch, Pebble, and others are all enjoying some degree of success. This category will see substantial growth in 2013, and we certainly hope to be among the leaders.”

Like Pebble, Metawatch announced the Strata with a Kickstarter project. As of Thursday, August 1, the Strata project had raised $197,614 against a goal of $100,000. With 18 days to go, total pledges could reach a quarter million dollars, or more, with the funding to be used to finish the software, field testing, regulatory certifications, and initial inventory build. (Disclaimer:  I’m backing the Strata project on Kickstarter to the tune of $159 for a “black and Olympic blue” model, due to be shipped in September.)

It’s great to see smartwatches coming to market that ordinary people can use and enjoy. After all, many of us have been wishing for a smartwatch ever since we saw the comic-book detective Dick Tracy using one when we were kids. I can’t wait for my Strata to arrive. Review promised.

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