Its a dongle^Wcharm thingy that plugs into the phone and acts as visible alert for phone state while its buried in a purse. Pretty funny toy.
Take this bracelet design:
Replace the washer with a small system: micro controller, battery, bluetooth, a handful of LEDs and a motor for vibration. All of the heavy lifting, computational wise, can be done on a desktop or mobile device.
We've always seen "futuristic watches" on TV shows from the 80s, which looked cool, but after a few seconds you realize that you would only wear them if they were stylish and not a piece that screams "nerd!" when you look at it.
We have the technology to build phone-watches, bluetooth enabled, with wifi, etc, but people just won't buy them. Why? They're ugly.
$35 (in red) http://www.dealextreme.com/p/stylish-bluetooth-v2-1-bracelet...
As a (man's) watch, $54: http://www.dealextreme.com/p/0-8-oled-bluetooth-wrist-watch-...
I'm sure there are more on Alibaba.
I think the operative word here is "stylish". Obviously taste is subjective, but my first impression for that one was "home detention bracelet"
I wonder how a Kickstarter campaign for a better styled version would go? You could probably get the internals for < $10 in bulk.
It's most useful when looking at one's phone would be considered rude, but looking at one's watch would not.
I haven't built any faces for mine (yet), but having the watch definitely makes me want to learn more Python/C.
If it was voice controlled however, that would be cool. The range of interaction would be far greater.
note: I gave up wearing wristwatches some time ago, if I did still wear them, this would be pretty interesting.
As to the screen, I can see many people in the near future being sold on this - hell, it's a cool thing in principle, as a kid my two favourite watches (one of which I had), were one that was a calculator (http://retrothing.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452989a69e201156f357...) and one that was a TV remote (http://www.calculatorwatch.net/wp-content/uploads/Digital-ca...), and many of my friends thought they were awesome too. Personally I'm quite happy taking my phone out to actually read stuff - though on a small watch a display for calls would be great if/when using a wireless headset.
This is genius. Why doesn't my phone do this now? Sure, I have different audible tones for reminders/sms/email/calls but most of the time my phone is in vibrate-only.
I think we will end up with watches similar to those you describe. I imagine they'll have more functions than alerting you though. A device in constant contact with the skin could likely do a whole bunch of health monitoring.
Through the accessibility settings, you can set completely custom vibrations for each of the contacts in your address book (e.g. you could make morse code of each of their names)
I believe iOS 5 can have difference vibrate patterns for each contact.
I still wear a watch but check the time on my cell phone probably 50%. The watch has become mostly just a functional piece of jewelry.
Edit: Sony SmartWatch should be coming soon, too (http://androidandme.com/2012/01/news/hands-on-with-the-sony-...).
People talk about how phones are getting more powerful processors each year and extrapolate that out but what's also going to happen is that the current slab phone paradigm will be challenged strongly by a combination of lighter tablets at the high end and even more miniaturized devices -- glasses, watches, headsets, armbands, etc. on the low end.
Advances in LTE networks mean your mobile chip really only has to be good enough to decode audio and video at a low ping. Those chips are going to get tiny indeed and run extremely power light.
3D printing advances continue to astonish, check out this 330x130x100µm3 racecar:
Voice and Kinect-style motion controls are rapidly maturing as alternatives to touch input. Eye movement and thought control perhaps not that far off.
Flexible screens, projection and very high density VR screens are also maturing and offer alternatives to the current slab phone screen.
It is nice to see that there are an increasing number of water resistant Android phones but nothing too mainstream yet. And battery life is typically less than 24 hours, which is also typical for this inpulse watch.
What is also desperately needed is for the size of use to be different than the size carried. For example it would be great if the phones were smaller than a matchbox in your pocket, but when you want to use them they expand to a larger size possibly via some of the mechanisms you mentioned.
One thing I realized was the iPad plan is the dumb pipe plan we've all been waiting for. It's really a neat trojan horse Apple's set up with the carriers for some future disruption like an iphone nano where the bluetooth headset is the whole phone and they can sell the thing for $149 without a subsidy.
One of the more fun gadgets I've been playing with lately is the inPulse smartwatch. It can silently buzz when you get a new email and show a preview of your email. It's has an API that works with many Android and Blackberry phones, so you can program your own custom apps to do things like move forward in a PowerPoint presentation or show stock quotes. It's pretty geeky, but in a very space-age way. I can see a lot of people wearing watches like this in a few years.
"Hey I made this hat that can send text messages if you just think about it!" "But I'm still wearing that ugly hat"
That, and AR headgear. People already wear wristwatches and glasses so it should be a smooth transition.
iOS has no such public API, and the various types of incoming messages (email/SMS/IM) are not unified in iOS like they are on BB. It's always been a weak spot on iOS. The iOS 5 notification center improves the situation quite a bit, but there's still no public API to enable a device like this watch.
...I waited most of 2010 to see this thing hit the shelves but gave up eventually when it started looking like vapourware. Not certain what the current status is.
I do not want another device I have to remember to connect to its charger and given its functionality I don't think its battery life is stellar.
This is where Steve Jobs would have a coronary. It's a device that screams "Tech!!!!!" (yes, with five bangs), not "style".
Wouldn't swear on a large stack of bibles, but I might use strong language on a small pile of Jesus comics, that this was the MOTOACTV: