At this point, the first generation of smartwatches have been in the hands of consumers for quite some time, and there’s a certain standard of device that’s come to be expected. Traditionally, this comprises of some sort of small LCD screen, often with touch input capabilities, that’s intended to link up to your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection and keep you abreast of any notifications that your phone might be displaying. It’s a model that’s proven to be very successful commercially, but it’s a marketplace that’s dominated by a few devices that hit the market early, as well as some big name competitors. New companies attempting to break into this space typically adopt the tact of creating a niche device that targets a specific user base, but with the TrueSmart, a company called Omate are making a big play to take a segment of the market for themselves—they’re attempting to make a device that can live up to the title of smartwatch 2.0.
Clearly, this is something of a lofty goal. There are plenty of smartwatches already on the market, and many consider the advent of smartwatch 2.0 to be the big hitters of the technology world adding their own contributions to the plate. Sony, Samsung and Apple will likely all have some form of major smartwatch release with consumers by the end of 2014, so any device that really wants to hit the ground running and prove to be a worthy competitor will have to have some seriously credentials to be taken seriously. Thankfully, the Omate TrueSmart has the pedigree of a device that can hold its own against robust competition—and the $1 million USD that it raised during its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign at the end of last year just goes to show that its audience is taking notice.
So, what is it about the TrueSmart that sets it apart from its considerable competition? Well, this aptly named device can operate without being tether to your smartphone, making it ‘truly smart’ in its own right. Many users decry the smartwatch as being rather useless since it relies on having another device in your pocket to do anything that interesting, but the TrueSmart roundly avoids that problem by being very capable when flying solo. It’s packed with 3G internet connectivity and both voice and gesture control, so just about whatever you can do with your phone connected to a traditional smartwatch, you can do with the TrueSmart.
It’s a potentially revolutionary shift in the hierarchy of tech devices that you carry around with you on a day-to-day basis. For many, being able to do things like access the internet, send text messages and listen to music from their wristwatch alone is exactly the sort of functionality that they were promised when smartwatches first started to be discussed. So much of the success of a device like this comes down to the execution of the ideas it has going for it, and it’s remarkable just how well the TrueSmart executes on its considerable potential. Apps like Facebook have been designed to fit the reduced screen size of the device, and work well with the different input methods available to users of the device. You might think that a screen this size would be very uncomfortable to type on, but by using the latest in keyboard design for these small-scale devices, the team at Omate have come up with some rather impressive results. While they admit that the TrueSmart isn’t the ideal device to write your novel on, simple operations like sending a text message are a breeze, and it seems that getting used to the small size of keyboard will be very easy after some hands-on time.
What’s more is the little things that add extra functionality to every nook and cranny of the device. The water and dust resistant casing of the TrueSmart means it won’t let you down and conk out for quite some time—you can even go swimming while wearing it and not worry about breaking the device. As is common with many smartwatches, there’s also the option to customize your watch face with a design that suits your personal style, but those available on the TrueSmart are seriously impressive. There’s quite some variety on offer, with designs aping both digital and analogue timepieces, but they all possess the same high level of quality. It’s an important feature despite being cosmetic, and it’s very encouraging to see how seriously it’s been taken. There’s even the capacity for more faces to be added via updates to the device’s system software later down the line.
While the title of smartwatch 2.0 might sound like a very boastful line to market your product with, it’s difficult to argue with once you’re aware of what the TrueSmart is capable of. If a smartwatch can quite comfortably deliver all the features you’d expect without having to piggyback off the technology of your mobile phone, then surely it does represent that much of an advancement of the device? It’s a compelling argument that was core to the success of the product’s crowdfunding campaign, but it’s also the core of a lengthy and considered development process that’s delivered great results. Everything from the physical design of the TrueSmart to its well implemented user interface and customised operating system works together in unison to present a new frontier in the world of smartwatches. As mentioned earlier, the device was the subject of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign earlier in the year, and while backers had their chance to buy in to what could be the future of the smartwatch some time ago, it’s nearly time for the TrueSmart to hit retail. Pricing and a release date are still unconfirmed, but it’s thought that a price of $199 USD wouldn’t be too far off the mark. If that does turn out to be the price, then you can consider it something of a bargain—for less than the price of an average smartphone, you’re getting pretty much everything but the added screen size. If the TrueSmart can live up to its early hype, then this will be a device you’ll be hearing a lot about over the next few years.