Smartwatches come in all different shapes and sizes. If you're not sold on the appearance of a full touchscreen watch, plenty of hybrid smartwatches exist to give you a more traditional look. There are even some companies aiming to marry mechanical design with more advanced touchscreens.
But as the features arms race intensifies, with companies aiming to pack in as many smart aspects as possible, one startup is taking a step back and offering a timepiece that aims to bring something more meaningful to the wearer.
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After two previous successful crowdfunding campaigns, What? Watch is back on Kickstarter with its latest piece – the Quotes Watch. You guessed it, the headline feature here is the watch screen and its ever-changing board of quotes, with backers able to pick one up at $75 ahead of expected shipping this October.
So, with the company previously dabbling with a calendar-focused watch, as well as one which allowed the user to pin meaningful moments in time with the touch of a button, why is it now turning to quotes for its latest project?
"There's something powerful about the right combination of words that can inspire and motivate; people really look for inspiration through them. Just look at social media – there are countless profiles dedicated to quotes with millions of followers. With Quotes Watch, we wanted to bring inspiring words even closer into people's lives," What? Watch's CEO Igor Basargin told us.
"Standard smartwatches are great for people who are looking for convenience or need a certain functionality. We purposely kept the Quotes Watch simple and focused on displaying text because we did not want the countless functions of a classical smartwatch to distract from the actual intent of the watch, which is to bring inspiration into people's lives."
The concept itself, Basargin described, is the work of Japanese creative director Masashi Kawamura, who also drew up the initial plans for What? Watch's previous designs.
Users will still naturally be able to access the time from the e-paper touchscreen watch, though this is very much a device focused on simplicity. In order to pull in quotes, a companion app will allow the wearer to add their own or pick from a library of options featuring different categories. Fonts and display styles can be customised, as well as the time each is displayed on the wrist for.
In addition to displaying quotes, the watch is also able to receive messages from selected friends and family – again, the aim of giving users a choice is to ensure things on the wrist stay strictly meaningful and relevant.
Playing to the crowd
Basargin also noted that the return to Kickstarter, while offering a nice source of additional funding for the company, is really more to test the concept and reach out to the community.
"We've learned many things on how to improve the Kickstarter campaigns," he said. "Although we have had two successful campaigns on Kickstarter, we also failed to meet our funding goal on one. I think we learned to set a funding goal that is not too high, but would still ensure proper project creation."
As we've seen before through What? Watch, the Quotes Watch is a world away from the designs being cooked up in the corridors of Cupertino or mass market trackers being pumped out in China. And while that limits its potential market, Basargin is also confident that the younger crowd will connect with the message behind the smartwatch.
"Quotes Watch is affordable, it's app driven and available in 10 different colours – these are things that appeal to a younger audience. But we also believe this is a very emotional product, and a younger audience is traditionally always the most positive to something like this," he continued.
And though there's undoubtedly a push to appeal to a certain audience, Basargin did stress that more conventional smartwatch features won't be tacked on by the company, despite it being open to the possibility of features that can add to the overarching theme of inspiration.
And to that end, What? Watch has a clear message that will no doubt speak to a small section of the crowdfunding community, as it has before. Only time will tell if it's able to break through its crowdfunding goal and achieve its aim of inspiring its wearers.