As the smartwatch space has matured, a natural progression of features has followed. First, heart rate became a staple, then GPS, and now LTE is making its mark after Apple and others began including it in their wearables.
The problem is, a watch with all of those features doesn't come cheap. At least, one you'll actually want around your wrist. Viita Watches is the latest startup that's hoping it can deliver another high-end, do-it-all smartwatch for a relatively budget price.
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The Viita Titan HRV has already smashed through its funding goal on Kickstarter ahead of expected shipments in December, with backers able to pick up the watch for around . When the campaign closes in October, the retail price will be set at around , so this is one campaign that it pays to get in on early.
"Last year we had an Indiegogo campaign, which was really successful, and we're shipping the devices for that watch at the moment. We've had three different devices in total, with one of them being fairly similar to the Viita Titan HRV – the hardware is the same, but this time around we wanted to house it with high quality materials," Viita Watches' Michael Kaisergruber told Wareable.
The Titan's design features a titanium casing with a ceramic bezel, as opposed to heavier stainless steel, while also offering a sapphire glass touchscreen and waterproofing up to 10 ATM – that means protection from H2O up to 100 metres, whether you're swimming, diving or even just taking a really, really long shower.
In terms of the actual features, users will be privy to the likes of notifications, GPS activity tracking for 19 different sports (offering speed, distance, time, heart rate and calories etc as feedback) and two weeks' battery life.
Sounds a little like a Garmin, right? But according to Kaisergruber, the company's ambition is simply to put its own stamp on smartwatches.
"We're a little different to Garmin, I think. We have a touchscreen, we have completely different price points in this campaign – something like our watch for Garmin would cost around $800. Our idea was never to copy Garmin, it was to create a beautiful, classic watch. That's something Garmin does, too, and those guys do it really well, and that's why we see them as a competitor," he said.
Matching top-end sports watches feature for feature is a good way to compete, with the likes of HRV, sleep monitoring and stress tracking all headlining on the Titan, but the startup is also looking to take some initial steps into the world of hydration monitoring – something Wareable editor Michael Sawh recently opined is the next big step for running watches.
"A lot of the team's background is within professional sports, and so hydration monitoring is something that we have experience with. With the Titan, we analyse your movements, your heart rate, your heart rate variability and the activity you do – then, based on this, we calculate your hydration over the day.
"We can't tell you in real-time how dehydrated you are, not yet, but we can give you an indicator of how much you should have drank by a certain time in the day, for example," Kaisergruber explained.
And despite offering one of the most feature-dense watches on the market, the company indicates that accuracy has been refined through its previous generations, with its algorithms undergoing light tweaks ahead of the Titan's launch.
"We've tested it over so many devices over the past four years. All we need to do is fine-tune a few things, but that's close to completion. We have a quick turnaround with our December shipping date, but everything is basically ready to go. There's no prototyping or rendering left to go through, it's just a question of how much we want to order for production," he continued.
With Viita among the crop taking aim at the prices of top-end Garmin, Suunto and Polar sports watches, it's managed to carve out some success in the crowdfunding circle. But should you back the startup in its latest project?
Well, at least on paper, the Titan HRV would appear to be strong competitor to its rivals. Considering this is a company with much more limited resources, it's impressive just how much is packed inside its latest watch – even offering neat tricks, like personalised hydration recommendations, that aren't available on other devices. And watches that have come through crowdfunding are often let down by software as much as hardware – so hopefully it'll deliver on that front too.
With so much of its value packed into accuracy, it's tough to say whether the investment is worth it until we get to test it out for ourselves after launch. However, with its current price tag set to ramp up after the campaign ends, it's certainly one to consider soon, if you're looking for top features on a budget pocket.
There's also the usual caution to exercise when backing a crowdfunding campaign, but all indications and previous shipping success suggests that Viita should be reliable in fulfilling its orders.
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