Google’s Android platform already powers phones and tablets, and now it runs on a wrist too: WIMM Labs started shipping its WIMM One wearable computer to developers for $299 on Wednesday. The preview product uses a 1.4-inch color display that pairs with an Android smartphone, but is also capable of running its own applications. With the hardware now shipping, WIMM is appealing to developers to create third-party applications for the product.
Unlike some wearable displays that function only with a smartphone, the WIMM One is a mini-computer in its own right. Inside the 22-gram, cube-like unit is a small low-power CPU, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios, an accelerometer, magnetometer, and up to 32 GB of storage memory. A capacitive touchscreen takes up the front face.
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In other words, the WIMM One has similar components to an Android smartphone, albeit less powerful and not meant to replicate all of the functions of a handset. In fact, to set up the WIMM One, you don’t need a smartphone. Using the included Wi-Fi radio, you connect to a network, link the watch via a code on WIMM’s website, and you’re off and running.
While the added components bring convenience, they also makes the WIMM One a little thick, at 12.5 millimeters. I have an early release unit — stay tuned for a full review — and find it to be fairly chunky on my wrist. But, as hardware matures, the components will continue to get smaller, if not more powerful at the same time. And the WIMM One can easily be popped out from its included wristband, so perhaps a clip accessory could be used in the future.
I spoke with WIMM Labs at our recent Mobilize event and was told the product focus was more than just smartphone-type notifications: something the competing MetaWatch offers as a core competency. Like the InPulse device I recently wrote about, the WIMM One is meant as a true multi-purpose wearable device due to software add-ons.
WIMM calls these “micro apps” as they typically won’t include a wide array of functionality in any single app, but instead will offer high-value single functions. Included with the WIMM One are beta apps: a world clock, weather, a timer, alarm, calendar app and a stopwatch. Nine watch faces are also available by default.
We’ll have to see if developers bite on the new platform, because without such micro apps, the WIMM One is a nice, but expensive, smartphone complement. I like what I’ve seen so far — the color display is nice and the touchscreen navigation is effective — but I’ll have to use the WIMM One for a few more days to see if developers’ interests should be piqued.