Talking tech since 2003

Based on several tweets over the last few days, it would seem that Sony is getting ready to announce a new piece of wearable tech that could become the next big fashion accessory of the 21st century. A post on the Xperiablog points out that Sony is likely preparing to unveil a new SmartWatch at the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai next week. And, really, it’d be a stretch to imagine that Sony’s been hinting at anything else. Take a look:

It’s pretty clear that Sony has a new gadget for your body, taking the “smart” out of your pocket and onto your wrist. But as obvious as what Sony has planned may be, it also raises the question: why?

I stopped wearing a watch when I got my cell phone. The thing has a clock, and it’s just as easy to reach into my pocket to see what time it is as it is to look at my wrist. If nothing else, keeping the clock in my pocket has ensured that I actually don’t check the time as much, which has had a net positive effect on my social life (though, constantly checking my email when my phone is out of my pocket might negate whatever gains less time-checking has brought). But overall, my smartphone is really the only device I’ve needed since I got it. So what’s the appeal of the SmartWatch?

The answer may come in the form of a successful Kickstarter campaign from last year. The Pebble is a customizable smartwatch that managed to pull in funding more than 100 times more than its goal of $100,000. With $10 million worth of backers who number at nearly 70,000, the Pebble syncs with Android or iOS-powered smartphones via BlueTooth, and can do so much of what your phone already does without needing to reach into your pocket.

The customization aspect is pretty cool, and having more communication options is always a bonus for those of us who do so much with our phones. And while I don’t personally feel the need for a smartwatch, it would seem that the Pebble has more than simply a few supporters. A good friend of mine got his in the mail a few months ago, and he’s been pretty pleased with it. The Pebble proves that, however inexplicably, there is an audience and market in place for this new category of gadget.

Considering a start-up company was able to get such a huge following with no prior track record to speak of, imagine what an electronics giant could do to follow that act? It’s important to note that Sony has already released a phone-syncing smartwatch, but it’s possible that Sony will crib some of the best ideas from the Pebble and maybe even improve on them to really bring this category into the mass-market limelight.

We’ve already heard that Apple has its own smartwatch in the works, though we haven’t yet seen anything official. It’s entirely possible that Sony might jumpstart a smartwatch revolution with this new iteration of the device. As Sony is quick to remind you, its Walkman sparked the personal music revolution way before Apple’s iPod was even a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye…

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