Your wrist is a hotly contested new battleground, with a small fry like Pebble doing battle with giants including Samsung, and activity trackers like the Jawbone UP and Nike+ FuelBand fighting it out, too. A new Kickstarter project also wants to be a contender, with the Carbon wearable solar charger.
The project debuted a couple of weeks ago, with a blank-faced wrist-mounted charger that had a simple solar panel and could collect sunlight and generate around three hours of extra talk time for smartphones with its onboard 800 mAh battery and USB output. But the device, while cool and definitely handy if you’re in need of a bit of emergency juice, wasn’t super practical as a wristborne tool, if only because it originally lacked the ability to tell time.
A new update to the project adds a watchface to the Carbon, however, after EnergyBionics gathered feedback from their supporters and found that this could be a way to increase interest in the wearable. The design of the gadget is already very watch-like, with a look not unlike that of the iPod nano and its many different watchband case accessories.
The new watchface is actually applied as a thin film over the existing solar cell, and the watch hands are moved by a watch movement that the company has already sources. There’s a recessed crown for setting the watch’s time, too, and the face is powered by the device’s existing battery, which EnergyBionics says won’t impact total battery life since it uses an extremely energy efficient processor.
The watchface is a small addition in many ways, but it’s also a game changer when it comes to making this product more useful. As a straight up reserve battery, it occupies an odd place as a wristworn gadget, but now that it doubles as an actual watch, it’s a lot easier to wrap your head around.
You still might want to save that space for the next great smartwatch out there, but if you want an emergency backup battery and are willing to pay the same amount for smaller capacity in exchange for something convenient to wear and carry, this could be the project for you. Carbon should ship in August if the project creators have their way, and the version with the analog watch face will set you back a $130 pledge.