Funded Kickstarter projcts for smartwatches that display information from a paired smartphone show there’s a market for the connected chronometer, so it’s only fitting that the next project adds one key feature: The ability to use the watch as a phone for voice calls or voice commands. Martian Watches, based in Irvine, CA, is looking to bring just that type of product to market in the form of three different wristwatches. Each uses analog dials for the time, but adds a small display for caller ID or text messages and can be used as a Bluetooth headset for hands-free calls.
The watches support both iOS and Android phones for calls and also work with voice command software on both platforms. That means for iPhone 4S owners, the watch has full wireless access to Siri. Folks with an Android phone can use the Martian watch with Vlingo InCar and other similar apps; actual support will vary due to the different software options on Android, but I’d hope it works with the native voice command features found in all versions of Android. Martian will offer a full SDK for the watch, so third-party apps can work with any of the functions in the future.
Typically, the sound quality of wrist-watches doubling as hands-free devices isn’t quite good enough, but as shown in this video, it appears that the Martian watch is loud and clear enough to be effective.
The watch is available in three styles although they appear somewhat similar. Each has a small 96 x 16 OLED display, vibrating and LED alerts, and buttons to accept and reject calls or initiate a voice command. Thanks to the accelerometer, you can also send an incoming call to voice mail by shaking your wrist. Martian says the watch battery lasts for 2+ hours of calls and 7 days of standby, while the analog hands will run for up to 30 days on a charge.
If funded, the watches will retail for $179 to $229, but early birds on Kickstarter can nab one for as little as $95. I like the Martian concept as it could help consumers shift voice calling activities from smartphones to tablets, but I may wait to see if any app developers take advantage of the device.