Smart technology in watch form has captivated the world since the days of Dick Tracy, but since the turn of the decade, we’ve inched closer to having the entire world on our wrists. The best-selling Kickstarter project in history was a vessel to turn a watch-defaulted iPod nano into a wrist-worn super-device.
The desire for a smart watch solution was so strong that Apple actually included a fitness watch capability in its most recent generation nano. But, there was no fully functional smart watch on the market that was able to function as well as a smartphone with half the size and double the ergonomics.
That is, until now. Italian designer tech company i’m debuted its i’m Watch, which is currently marketed as “the first real smart watch.” The i’m Watch can run nearly anything on its customized Android interface and tethers to your current smartphone (including BlackBerry and iPhone) to handle phone calls, SMS, music and a host of apps. But the i’m is just as focused on beauty as technological practicality.
“Given also our brand’s Italian roots, we naturally do give an extreme emphasis on elegant design, since we profoundly believe that sight and touch deserve an equally important share, just like the more technical aspects,” says Eleonora Cazzaro, press manager at i’m.
Now on the market in Europe — but with a burgeoning office in Silicon Valley and a vendor slot at CES 2012 — an aluminum-bodied i’m Watch will run a minimum of €249 (approximately $322). For those who are looking for a fancier model, the i’m Watch also has a titanium-encased version at a steeper €499 ($644), a carbonium-made product at €999 ($1291) and an ultra-luxurious gold watch with optional diamonds at a staggering €9999 (nearly $13,000).
There are hundreds of styles and forms to choose from, so why a watch? The i’m Watch is meant to marry technology with ergonomics. According to Cazzaro, the handy placement of a watch makes the process of interacting with data seamless and immediate.
“A simple watch is most likely one of the most, if not the most, ergonomic accessory a person can dispose of,” Cazzaro explains. “It takes less than a second to time-check, it is secured around your wrist and holds a very important position aesthetically speaking, considering all the possible accessories a person can actually wear.”
Instead of fumbling through pockets to pick up a device, or feeling the sting every time a product slips through fingers to crash on the ground, the i’m Watch is designed for immediate access to a smartphone’s features in a safe and secure way. The total weight of the product is a paltry 2.4 ounces, relatively half the size of the new (and impressively thin) Motorola RAZR. A list of incoming calls, address book and apps, including Facebook and Twitter, are all accessible via the i’m Watch’s curved sapphire glass touch screen. The user is able to swipe, tap, click and enlarge on the intuitive multi-touch surface.
“With the various touch patterns implemented in the i’m Watch, our goal is to give the user a feeling as smooth as possible when interacting with the interface, almost as if it were part of his body,” Cazzaro says.
Pairing Smart Tech with Smart Luxury
But at the same time, the i’m Watch is still, at its core, a watch. It maintains the traditional lines of a timepiece, and its materials remain largely handcrafted in its native Italy. The goal for i’m Watch is to provide the user with an intuitive device that sits in a naturally classic shell.
“What we did — given the continuously evolving technologies and trends in a frantic and demanding lifestyle — is blend these classic features with the popular, sought-after functions most of us require, such as phone, email, social network and more, to create a dynamic, efficient and accurately designed device,” Cazzaro explains. “All of this is installed in the unique, simple concept of a [smart]watch.”
There’s also plenty to note in terms of aesthetics. Adopting a clean, minimalist bent, the i’m Watch has dramatic curves and plenty of eye-popping color. While all models come with the same guts, the beauty of the upper-tier offerings is hard to ignore. One specific standout is the luxury-embracing (and highly expensive) i’m Jewel line, which has a gold-plated exterior that can come in four naturally-occurring shades and oozes luxury. The white gold model even includes diamonds, making the design more Rolex than Apple.
“The i’m Jewel collection has been conceived for our most demanding clients,” Cazzaro says. “It does provide the exact same functionalities of our other collections, but needless to say, it adds that timeless and untiring touch of exclusivity and uniqueness.”
The overarching goal for i’m is to develop centrally-connected devices that help bridge the gap between various technology platforms. While there are plenty of mysterious projects in the pipeline, time will tell if the i’m lifestyle is the right marriage of personal luxury and technology to break through and become as ubiquitous as it promises.