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Smart Watch Made of Paper?

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FES Watch  (c)  Fashion Entertainments
FES Watch
(c) Fashion Entertainments

The smart watch is seen as the next big thing. That is why Samsung, LG, Sony and Pebble beat Apple to the punch in introducing their respective Android-based smart watches, they tried to gain market share ahead of the Cupertino-based tech giant’s release of the Apple Watch. The early incarnations of the smart watches don’t feel smart at all – they lag, hang, and most annoying of all, they die on you suddenly.

It’s pretty annoying to have your watch die on you in the middle of the work day. If you don’t have your smart phone with you as a back-up, you’d have no way to count down the minutes before the clock strikes 5pm.

The main reason why battery life is so sucky is because the backlit LCD display sucks so much power. Not only does it have to spell out the numbers and other stuff that apps on a smart watch show, it also has to power the LEDs to make the display readable. Mind you, the light from within the watch must have high illumination, otherwise it would lose out to sunlight, rendering the display unreadable. This has, in fact, happened to me several times on my supposedly smart watch.

To address this, a Japanese company called Fashion Entertainments, or FES, released a smart watch that uses electronic paper for its face and band. Unlike bac-klit displays, it doesn’t use LEDs behind the display to show whatever is on. Instead, it relies on ambient light to reflect on it and show the user what’s on the display. As a result, it uses so much less power. In fact, it can run for half a year on a single charge, unlike current smart watches.

But then, less power means just that – the display isn’t as exciting and brilliant as its back-lit cousins. But then, the old analog watch you have doesn’t display apps like the current smart watches, but it does what counts – which is to tell the time and indicate your social status.

That is where FES’ pedigree comes in, it’s actually a subsidiary of tech giant Sony. So while the company tried to test if the concept of an e-paper based watch would fly on a crowdsourcing site, and raised 3.5 million yen (US$30,000) in the process, it has the backing of the developers of the Walkman and the Playstation.

So now that that is out of the bag now, the question is if it will be appealing enough for people to buy.

Well, that is something we will have to watch out for when the FES watch comes out.

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