Martian boss: 'No-one wants a hockey puck on their wrist'

Martian's Stan Kinsey on why his company has got things right with smartwatches
'No-one wants a hockey puck on their wrist'

While Apple and Google are getting all the smartwatch plaudits in 2015, in many ways Martian is years ahead. It released its first smartwatch – the Martian Notifier – back in 2012; an analogue timepiece with smartwatch notifications.

Since then it's released the Martian Voice Command, a range of voice controlled smartwatches, and partnered with US fashion giant Guess to produce the first commercially available designer brand smartwatch the Guess Connect. And as you'd expect from a company that's achieved all this before Apple's own fashion watch moonshot hits the shelves, the company is bullish about its achievements.

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"We created voice two years ago, 20% of people out there use voice now. 60% of our people use voice. We believe in our approach, nothing telling us we have to go in a different direction," Stan Kinsey, acting president at Martian told Wareable.

We caught up with Kinsey at his stand at MWC 2015 in Barcelona, a space shared with Guess, their fashion partner. The two companies are unlikely bedfellows in some ways, and perfect partners in others. Martian, as a company, couldn't be further from making a legitimate claim to the fashion world, and Guess could never have created smart tech on its own.

Kinsey calls himself "the ideas guy at Martian", and it's clear from the outset that he lives and breathes the product. He knows everyone at the stand by name, and many of the features on the device – from the customisable notifications to the manageable push notifications – all came directly from Stan.

"From a fashion standpoint, I'd say two years ago, Pebble was fashionable," he said.

"At that point if someone was wearing a smartwatch, they wanted people to know that there wearing smartwatch. Already the world is coming back around, and people are asking about classic watch design," he continued.

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And Kinsey already believes that Martian has found the answer.

"We're proud of what we have. Anyone who evaluates every product out there – we win their tests," Kinsey continued.

"I think that when the consumer starts realising that tech comes in all shapes and forms, they'll choose the look of Guess or the look of Martian, rather than the look of a flat panel screen – one that looks like a hockey puck on your wrist," he challenged.

The look of the Guess Connect isn't for everyone, and if you don't like bling, it's probably not going to be on your shopping list. However, Guess is a big name in watches, and its wrapped Martian's tech inside its biggest selling design – and it's a compelling sell.

"Already many mainstream media are saying to us 'you figured it out, didn't you'", continued Kinsey.

With Android Wear and the Apple Watch hogging most of the limelight, it would be easy for Martian to deviate from their plan and to sign up with one of the bigger players. However, Kinsey believes that Martian has the product right, and that the big players will soon be following its lead, not the other way around.

"We believe in the look. We believe in the functionality. I think voice will be the number one command and control operative there is, better than pushing buttons or swiping screens," he said.

"Voice will win out, so we're trying to make it better. And incoming, realistically, notifications today are still 70% or 80% of what you use a watch for. We think we have better functionality for incoming and out going voice, better functionality for notifications, which is 80% of why you use the darn thing in the first place."

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All smartwatch manufacturers still have a long way to go until the product reaches mainstream acceptance, but with its tie-in with Guess, Martian is forging its own path in wearables, but getting its message out there won't be easy.

"I believe our next challenge is not technical it's communicating to the world what we have."

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