Casio’s first true smart watch has been designed to specialise in outdoor pursuits because the company believes no-one has yet developed smart watch functionality suited to everyday use.
The Japanese company unveiled its Android Wear-based Smart Outdoor Watch WSD-F10 at CES in Las Vegas yesterday. The rugged watch is water resistant to 50m, tested to conform to military specifications and comes with a host of sensors to measure altitude, air pressure, compass direction, tide graphs, sunrise and sunset times. Battery life is just over one day but a time-only, low power mode extends that to one month.
Kazuhiro Kashio, president of Casio, told the Financial Times: “One reason why we couldn’t come out with an average smartwatch is because we couldn’t find a function for everyday use. That’s the same for other companies as well”.
Mr Kashio went on to explain that further product development was needed to create a product in new smart watch products to help capture the mainstream public’s imagination and solidify the market, saying: “The smart watch market appears to exist but it’s not really there yet. Unless there is a function that is exclusive to a smart watch I think further market penetration will be difficult.”
WATCHPRO OPINION: In testing many of the smart watches currently on the market, WatchPro has also identified the sector as needing a real sense of purpose. It is currently a technology in need of a function, as many simply repeat the functionality of their tethered smart phones. Many of the apps that are available to use on various smart watches are better served by the bigger screens of smart phones and frankly have no business being anywhere else.
Niche sectors like the outdoors market that Casio has targeted with its WSD-F10 solve that issue to a certain extent, but will never sell in huge numbers because of their niche appeal. A ‘Killer App’ is still needed to prompt mainstream sales like those kind of ‘Tomorrow’s World’ predictions that Google is making about smart watches that will predict heart attacks or strokes and call the ambulance on your behalf, although perhaps that’s more of a ‘Lifesaving App’.
Apple has managed these kinds of sales with the launch of the Apple Watch, but those have largely been based on slick design and the magnetic aura of the Apple brand rather than any unique functionality that sets it apart from the competition.
Casio’s strategy of creating functional smart watches for specific pursuits is sound but, with a distinct lack of charging points in most outdoor environments, it will have to add solar cells at some point to boost its single day battery life.