Watch will abandon hands, embrace wireless

France Télécom SA's R&D (research and development) announced this week that it has inked a partnership deal with French watchmaker Xelia Technologies SA. The pair have agreed to collaborate on creating a watch that might help children learn to tell the time through a digital-age style of instruction, and also provide kiddies with access to a smattering of wireless technologies. In April of next year, the two companies plan to demonstrate an initial prototype of the product and the surrounding wireless services. An entire suite of communication applications is due to follow in November 2001.

Designed for young children, Xelia currently manufactures a watch that abandons traditional watch hands in favor of an image or symbol-based model of telling time. The watch organises a child's day through a series of icons that depict daily events. Instead of the confusing big hand/little hand approach, the Xelia watch flashes images for waking up, having breakfast, leaving for school or brushing teeth before bed.

By partnering with a telecommunications provider, the uses of the watch may expand far beyond flashing milk and cookies.

The partners have set the goal of connecting the watch to wireless phones, PCs, TV sets, and possibly parents' watches. With a mobile interface, France Télécom predicts that children may one day send pictures between friends and family, have messaging functions, or even open a household door, all via a watch. The French telecom provider also said that television sets may be programmed to recognise a child's return home from school and automatically tune in to a preset station designated by either the child or their parents.

This month, IBM released word on a project to install Linux on series of wristwatches that would have some similarities in functionality to the planned France Télécom-Xelia product. Big Blue's version, however, will not focus on recess and snack time as much as it will give users access to email, stock quotes, phone numbers, and a variety of other personal digital assistant-like features.

While IBM's watch may sound appealing to some, don't expect to have open-source code around your wrist for another couple of years. IBM must still move past a few technological hurdles like the size and battery-life of the high-powered device.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst for Gartner, said a few companies have begun dashing toward tech-heavy watches, but doubts how effective the strategy may be.

"People tend to choose a watch more for style than substance," Dulaney said. He added that with watches having such small display screens, people will likely choose other tools for data-related tasks. "If we are moving toward wearable computers, it is not going to come in the form of a watch," Dulaney said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ashlee Vance

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?