Why buy a smartwatch when you can educate your existing timepiece?

  • TECH
  • Monday, 19 May 2014

EDUCATE: The Modillian Smart Strap can be fitted to your existing watch.

Described as the world's first smart strap, the Modillian can be fitted to a traditional wristwatch and linked wirelessly to a smartphone. 

The strap is ‘smart' because its buckle has built-in Bluetooth and a vibration unit that will buzz a silent, yet sensory alert when there's an incoming call, message or other notification. 

The supporting smartphone app can be tailored so that the strap only buzzes for certain types of alerts and different notifications can be designated different types of vibration. 

It won't magically turn the crystal of an analogue watch into a touch-sensitive multimedia display.  

However, what it does do is offer discerning consumers smartwatch functionality without any of the drawbacks of dumping an elegant, Swiss made chronometer for something made of moulded plastic that is little more than a digital watch from the mid-1980s in terms of look, feel, quality and design. 

A true smartwatch — i.e., one that can make and receive calls as well as run apps without a smartphone backing it up — could be a great gadget for a gentleman of an evening who doesn't want to spoil the cut of his suit by having to squeeze his phone into one of its pockets. 

But, as the current crop of smartwatches are being designed in Silicon Valley and South Korea, rather than in Swiss workshops, the resulting gadgets might be easily paired with a phone or phablet, but don't pair so easily with a cuff-linked dress shirt and a well-tailored suit. 

The wristwatch is no longer a necessity — particularly for the digital generation who use their smartphones to check the time and date. 

Therefore the biggest potential audience for the smartwatch is existing watch-wearers and watch-lovers.  

However, convincing them to give up a TAG Heuer, Rolex, Longines or Breitling in favor of something that bleeps and flashes, is made from plastic and needs to be plugged in to recharge every day is going to be a tough sell. 

All of which is what makes the Modillian so intriguing an idea. It allows the owner to retain his or her sense of style, while simultaneously adopting a new technology. 

The only potential obstacles could be that for the moment at least, the controlling app is only Android compatible (an iOS app is still in the early development phase), and that the initial model will only fit watches as a replacement for a buckle-fastening leather or plastic strap. 

But a version that can replace the clasp fixing on a metal bracelet could well follow if the Modillian proves a hit. 

And it won't take long to find out how people feel about it. The Modillian will hit crowdfunding site Indiegogo on June 10 with the hopes of obtaining sufficient backing to be able to retail for US$200 (RM646.80) in 2015. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014 

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