One of the most sensible ways to build beautiful wearable tech is to take something that's already beautiful and add a smart strap or module or clip on that makes it connected without ruining the good looks.
Devices like Chronos do a pretty elegant job of adding features to treasured timepieces. Sadly, the INOX Cybertool, a new collaboration from Acer and Victorinox takes a brilliant idea - add a smart bezel to a mechanical watch - and fails to make it work in execution.
Victorinox INOX Cybertool: Design
The plastic, Gorilla Glass coated INOX Cybertool adds a non touch display, alerts, activity tracking and phone finding features to existing INOX watches. It comes in blue or black and costs a considerable $225. It also pretty much destroys any semblance of style.
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When we first got the release, we noted that it's just 24g so sure, it is light. We didn't realise just how chunky it is - the device, which you slide your watch into, is actually 21.9mm thick.
You can see from the pics what that looks like on a normal sized girl's wrist, we doubt it would be much of an improvement on a man's wrist. For comparison, an Apple Watch is 10.5mm thick.
Victorinox INOX Cybertool: Features
In our quick demo, we cycled through the options with the two physical buttons and got a sense of what you'll actually be able to see. Only the first four letters of who is calling you, for instance, as well as things like global timezones and your daily activity progress.
The activity tracking in the app (iOS and Android) looked fine but nothing special and the battery life is unsurprisingly a decent five to seven days, considering what you actually get.
We're really trying to think of some positives here - it slides on and off quickly so we guess it could be used in situations where you want the connected features but you know, no-one will see you wearing this thing.
Victorinox INOX Cybertool: We can fix this
Like we said, this is kind of a neat idea. The bezel is a great place to do some innovating, as we've seen from the Samsung Gear S2. Could it be a place to stick small extra displays onto analogue watches? Maybe. But this isn't the way to do it.
Acer needs to rethink where the display needs to sit and where the rest of the tech can go. It's light enough but it needs to be considerably smaller and more stylish.
As it stands, for $225 we really can't see many (any?) INOX owners choosing to buy this device. A slim, stainless steel, less than 3mm Chronos disc doesn't offer any kind of display but it does activity tracking and gestures for a $99 pre-order price. Plus it works with 80% of regular watches.
We'll give the INOX Cybertool the benefit of a proper test to find out if it's genuinely useful but stay tuned to see if Acer and Victorinox try to make something with a bit more style.