Sure, the Pebble has nabbed its share of headlines and accolades lately, but that doesn’t mean it’s got the nascent smart watch market all sewed up. Case in point: veteran MetaWatch recently pulled back the curtains on its new Strata smart watch, and it’s already picking up plenty of steam on (where else?) Kickstarter.
Unlike some of the other smartwatch concepts that have been dreamed up in recent months, the Strata is the brainchild of a known quantity. MetaWatch has been tackling the problem of putting topical information on people’s wrists for nearly eight years now — the company’s roots lay with the clothing and accessory mavens at Fossil, which produced a pair of fashion-conscious smart timepieces in May 2011 before the team split off and formed their own company that August. Since then that team has been working on developer-oriented smart watches, but now they’re ready to bring the Strata to the masses.
Conceptually, the Strata doesn’t stray too far from the models that preceded it. In short, the watch connects to a compatible iDevice or Android handset via Bluetooth and provides call information, text messages, and weather updates at a glance. Thanks to MetaWatch’s SDKs and open-sourced software developers can tap into the Strata with apps that live directly on handset it’s connected to. A few nifty add-ons like an integrated running app, music controls, and an alert that warns users when they’ve wandered away from their phones rounds out the (rather handsome) package.
Where the Strata really bucks the trend it helped start is its strong focus on iOS support, and specifically support for iOS6. Take a look at the watch’s Kickstarter demo video to see what I mean — go ahead, I’ll wait.
Yep, there’s nary a mention of Android to be found. That’s not to say that the Strata will leave Android users behind. MetaWatch’s earlier development units were meant to be used with Android devices, and the project’s description notes that the Strata already works with devices like the Galaxy Nexus. There’s no word yet on what other specific models the Strata will play nice with, but apparently most Android handsets running on 2.1 or later should do the job.
Then again, that iOS push may be a savvier move than it appears at first glance. Huge consumer electronics companies like Motorola and Sony have thrown their gauntlets into the wrist-mounted display ring with devices that link up to their respective Android smartphones, with varying (and not very considerable) degrees of popularity. Apple’s hardware ecosystem on the other hand hasn’t yet played home to this sort of wearable device, and the Strata’s novelty and utility may be enough to inspire a new generation of iPhone-toting wrist-glancers.
So far, the Strata’s Kickstarter campaign seems to be moving at a steady clip — the project only went live yesterday morning and at time of writing 361 backers have chipped in a total of $62,000 to help MetaWatch’s latest make the leap from prototype to product. If this sort of momentum keeps up, we should be looking at a fully-funded project before Monday rolls around, but with tremendous popularity comes tremendous pressure — the team behind the record-breaking Pebble smart watch recently announced that they wouldn’t be able to stick to their original September launch window.
Coincidentally, MetaWatch also aims to push out its first Stratas to Kickstarter backers in September, and there’s word of a retail push in the works too. We’ll soon see if demand for this little guy reaches the same fever pitch that propelled the Pebble to the top of the Kickstarter charts, but for now you may want to lock one down before they’re all gone — a first-run Strata can be had for $159, while developer-oriented packages and special edition variants can cost as much as $299.