The Meta Watch was designed with hopes of breaking the curse of consumer apathy when it comes to smart watches. An Android-friendly version has actually been available to developers since the middle of last year, but thanks to a Bluetooth update, it's now compatible with iOS too. But is that enough to make you care?
Not surprisingly, it was technical difficulties with iOS and Apple's hardware that prevented the Meta Watch from working with the company's devices in the first place, including compatibility with older Bluetooth protocols and hardware, and iOS refusing to allow background tasks to be run over a Bluetooth connection — functionality which is vital for a watch that's delivering constant updates from your phone. But with iOS 5, and the addition of Bluetooth 4.0 hardware (and its low-energy mode) to the iPhone 4S and the new iPad, those limitations are no longer an obstacle.
In the past, consumers have been mostly apathetic towards smart watches, even models backed by Microsoft, Fossil, Swatch, and even Sony Ericsson — companies who spent lots of money marketing the devices. But given the recent success of the Pebble watch, there's definitely still interest out there. So this time around the company's founders, Bill Geiser and David Rosales, who were responsible for some of the most valiant attempts at designing smart watches in the past, have taken a different approach.
With the Meta Watch they didn't set out to design a smart watch that does everything from the get-go. Instead, they created an open platform and made it available to developers first to let them come up with new and unique ways a smart watch could benefit consumers.
Arguably, the iTunes App Store was a big reason the iPhone is as popular as it is now, and the creators of the Meta Watch are betting a similar approach will benefit smart watches too. Instead of doing everything that everyone wants it to, consumers will be able to customise their individual watch's functionality.
The new dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0 version of the Meta Watch, which works with both iOS and Android, will be available to developers sometime this month for $US199 in a black or white finish, complete with a three-axis accelerometer, 96x96 pixel LCD display and an ambient light sensor. However, because it requires a Bluetooth 4.0 connection for iOS connectivity, only the iPhone 4S and the new iPad will be supported. (And running iOS 5 of course.) Trying yet again to create a smart watch with mass appeal is risky, but the creators of the Meta Watch know how difficult it can be and are seemingly being careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past. [Meta Watch]