You can stop complaining that all the world's smartwatches are too ugly to actually wear. A new $80 smart accessory called Glance puts a small selection of smartwatch-like functions on a thin slab of hardware that slides underneath the band of your existing wristwatch.
It doesn't look like the most elegant solution in the world--I'm not sure if I'd like anything wedged underneath my watch band--but the price might be low enough to attract adventuresome, wearables-curious consumers. And while Glance doesn't have a camera, or run apps, or provide Google Now updates, its small selection of features might just win some hearts and minds--perhaps a case of addition by subtraction in the feature-bloated wearable space.
Developed by Kiwi Wearables and available now for a special pre-order price of $70 for the first 1,000 buyers, Glance provides incoming call notifications and text messages directly on its curved OLED display. Button presses let you respond with pre-formatted, canned replies. There's also a find-my-phone feature, and the hardware can track your steps as well.
And here's a fancy trick: Glance can perform simple "air mouse" functions to, say, control the slides of a PowerPoint presentation, or the interface of a media player. You simply hold up your hand, flick up your thumb like a hitchhiker, and then click your thumb down. To this extent, its simple gesture recognition borrows a few tricks from wearable input devices like the Nod ring.
Glance connects via Bluetooth to iPhones running 1OS 7 and higher, and Android phones running 4.3 and higher. The chassis is machined aluminum, and comes in either gold or silver finishes. There's also an optional leather band in case you don't even own a favorite wristwatch. Three different sizes support wristwatch band widths of 18 mm, 22 mm, and 26 mm.
The first 1,000 pre-order units are slated to ship in October, with the full retail launch hitting in December. So we'll still have to wait a bit to answer some critical questions: How does Glance actually feel when its battened down on your wrist? Is the step tracking accurate? How long is battery life? And what's the likelihood of Glance slipping off your wrist and tumbling down an open sewer grating?
Hey, we must consider the inevitable disaster. But one thing's for certain: At a bring-your-own-watch party, you're not allowed to complain about watchface aesthetics.