With products like the Pebble and the MetaWatch Strata easily blowing past their funding goals on Kickstarter, it seems like we’re knee-deep in a smartwatch renaissance. The space is already seeing some strong competitors emerge, and now another player is looking to carve out its own niche in the hype-filled smartwatch market.
Once the Martian watch is connected to an iPhone or Android handset via Bluetooth, users can use the watch’s integrated noise-cancelling microphone to issue voice commands to the tethered smartphone. And, yes, you can live out your Dick Tracy fantasies by listening and speaking to callers directly from the watch, thanks to the inclusion of a directional speaker. It’s a very nifty feature, and one that hasn’t really been touched on by some of the bigger players, but my first question was one of compatibility.
“If the [Android] phone came with an integrated Voice Command app and it works with a Bluetooth headset, it will work with Martian,” said Martian Watches president Stan Kinsey. “If the phone doesn’t have integrated Voice Command, most Androids will work with Martian via the “Vlingo InCar” app.” Meanwhile, the Martian watches already seem to play nice with Siri, and the stock voice commands in the iPhone 4 and 3GS.
At first glance, the Martian watches don’t look much like the other smartwatches that have garned so much attention in recent months. They still have mechanical, analog faces for one, which means call information, text messages and emails are instead displayed on a one-line OLED display nestled in the bottom half of the watch’s face.
Meanwhile, a vibration motor and a notification LED help to provide all-important context when different events happen — green flashes mean that someone’s calling you, while blue flashes signal the arrival of a text message. Android users can actually squeeze more functionality out of the watch through an as-yet unreleased app that lets them set up notifications from other services. That approach makes for a smartwatch that isn’t quite as technologically striking as say, a Pebble, but Martian Watches president Stan Kinsey tells me that’s not really the point.
“We didn’t want to just miniaturize and replicate the phone’s screen and features on your wrist,” Kinsey said. “We wanted to complement the phone and make it easier to do a lot of phone-centric tasks.”
The Martian Watches team is shooting to score $200,000 in Kickstarter funds, and plans to make the watches in three distinct styles: the Passport, G2G, and Victory (seen in order above). Right now, prices for the different trim levels range from $95 to $125, and with any luck these things should be out the door and on your wrists by this January.