Pitched somewhere between a Bluetooth hands-free headset and a wrist-worn notification and apps center, the device, called HeadWatch, has just hit Indiegogo looking to secure $300,000 in funding. Its Portuguese creators claim that the device offers a totally new way of interacting with a smartphone, but anyone who attended the Mobile World Congress in February will note the similarities between the HeadWatch and the Huawei TalkBand B1.
The TalkBand is essentially a fitness tracker band that has a pull-out earpiece for making phone calls. And while the HeadWatch offers the same functionality, it does so in a different way.
The whole watch face detaches from the strap and can be clipped on to the ear in order to make hands-free calls and when worn as a standard smartwatch, it is focused on being a second screen for a smartphone, rather than competing with the likes of the Jawbone Up and Nike Fuel Band.
It has a color touchscreen and uses Android as an operating system but should also pair with the iPhone. Embedded colored light strips above and below the watch face illuminate when there’s a new notification and, rather than being packed with motion and tracking sensors, the device only offers a temperature sensor and accelerometer, but should be water resistant to a depth of at least one meter.
The HeadWatch is attempting to address an issue that the current crop of smartwatches face. How can they be used discreetly for making and receiving voice calls? The majority of devices with this functionality already on the market ether require the user to talk into them like Dick Tracy or, like Qualcomm’s Toq, to pair the device with a Bluetooth earpiece, meaning that users need to carry two gadgets plus a smartphone with them wherever they go. Not the ideal situation.
Whether or not the HeadWatch‘s novel solution to this problem will entice potential backers remains to be seen — $300,000 is a large amount to source via a crowd-funding site and, according to the company’s projected timeline, it doesn’t expect to ship finished devices to its initial backers until mid-2015. This suggests that the development and testing process still has some way to go. Still, it is offering early-bird backers the chance to snap one up for $169 (plus $15 in shipping charges) rather than $199.