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Silicon-Valley based WIMM Labs introduced the WIMM Wearable Platform yesterday, which is a tiny computer that can be worn as a watch

Many of us who grew up watching shows like "Inspector Gadget" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" have wondered at some point what it'd be like to have Inspector Gadget's high-tech watch or the turtle comm from TMNT. Over the past decade, we've obtained such high-tech devices in the way of smartphones, tablets and updated laptops/desktops. But now, we'll finally get our hands on that Inspector Gadget-like watch.

Silicon-Valley based WIMM Labs introduced the WIMM Wearable Platform yesterday, which is a tiny computer that can be worn as a watch. It's a 1.4-inch square computer with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. It also supports up to 32GB of memory and has a built-in GPS.

The WIMM Wearable Platform will feature the Android operating system. With Android being the most popular OS on the mobile market, WIMM Labs hopes the adoption of Android will prompt developers to create more "micro apps" for the WIMM Wearable Platform. Making apps for the watch is similar to making smartphone apps, with the exception of working with a 160 by 160 pixel screen. Apps for news and weather have already been created for the WIMM, as well as a mobile payments app. However, the WIMM device must be coupled with an Android, iOS or BlackBerry phone to access a 3G or 4G data network.

In addition, the WIMM has a touch screen bi-modal display, which means that it looks like a standard digital watch when not in use to save battery power, but when smartphone-like features are needed, the display is switched to a color display with apps.

While this new device seems pretty cool, it isn't fair to say that this is the first "smartwatch." In 2003, Microsoft created something similar called SPOT, which operated on FM radio signals. Unfortunately, SPOT never really caught on with the masses due to its lack of coverage and lack of "traction" in the marketplace. In fact, SPOT's service is expected to be turned off by the end of 2011.

WIMM Labs will make the WIMM development kit available to developers in one month, and an app store will launch in the fourth quarter 2011.

I think WIMM is unique in the fact that its a wearable platform, unlike laptops, smartphones and tablets. This makes it convenient, but with such a small screen, I have to wonder what the apps look like. I also wonder if one could gain a full smartphone experience on a gadget like this. Despite the convenience of wearing it, it might make more sense to pay for a smartphone that has all the features I could ever want on a screen that I can actually see. I wish a price for the device was listed, because that would play a part in my opinion as well (Forbes estimates it will have a $199 retail price).

What's your stance? Is wearable tech a step in the right direction, or is it completely useless? Would you buy/use it?

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By Athlex on 8/22/2011 6:18:09 PM , Rating: 2
With some clever apps, I see this being a great tethered extension to a smartphone or laptop. (caller ID, text message/e-mail preview, X10, TV remote) Unless mobile carriers offer [subsidize] these, they may need to put out a barebones version (no wifi/GPS, only 4GB of flash for example) as a lower-cost option to get people to buy in.

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