If you were a fan of Knight Rider in the 1980s, then all of the fantasies created by your younger self are about to come true – apart from the talking car. The new smartwatch by Martian enables you to speak directly to your digital assistant, ask them to turn the lights on, the music up, or any command you have activated on your phone. Martian has chosen to tone down on the “smart,” element of smartwatches and focus instead on practicality, and a reasonable price point. The watch itself is a traditional quartz analogue watch – not very smart – but it does everything a normal watch does, and also has a small OLED screen on it’s face for notifications. It also has the obviously necessary internal microphones and speaker activated local control that enables integration with your mobile. The watch itself also uses a simple micro USB port which plugs easily into the side of the phone, enabling users to easily source a generic charging cord if they misplace theirs, and the phone comes standard with a lithium polymer battery which is rated for around five days. Importantly, this battery life won’t be impinged by excessive memory usage or data requirements. Apart from the ability to communicate with your digital assistant, the watch itself is, well, just watch. Martian doesn’t pretend that they are producing a computer that fits on your wrist, but rather a watch with a view additional, and useful features. The phone won’t sync with your laptop, and enable you to access data files but it will notify you of incoming emails, and text messages. You will get an alert when a calendar event is pending, but you can’t access your server or applications. Martian understands that to most people, especially based on consumer demand, a watch is just a watch. Consumers have laptops, smartphones and desktop computers to perform major tasks, and Martian sees it’s offering as complementary to the user’s lifestyle, not an additional piece of computing hardware, fighting for attention.
That lack of internal complexity is evident in the design – simple and sleek – the watch is reminiscent of an elegant timepiece, rather than a large, sometimes offputting smartwatch.
As smartwatches continue to find their niche in the market, it’s likely that high-tech devices and simplistic analog extensions will exist side-by-side, but, not unlike the calculator watch used during the time of Knight Rider, there is a distinct possibility that we may look back on large smart watches with less awe, and more of an eye roll.