While the world waits for fully capable smart watches like the rumored iWatch and Neptune Pine, it'll have to be content with watches that provide a bridge to the smartphone. The Pebble Watch is the most well-known, but it does have some competition. One example is the new Dew Motion iStick Playtime, a sport-specific armband that controls key smartphone functions.
Designed to put a sport-specific spin on the "smart watch," the iSport Playtime is actually a thin, lightweight armband that flexes to follow the curve of the arm. It can be worn around the wrist or forearm, or lashed to your bike handlebars, backpack shoulder strap or other sports gear. It's like a smarter version of the various iPhone-cradling sport armbands already available and takes the weight of the phone off your arm.
What makes the Playtime smarter and more functional than dumb armbands is its E-ink display, joystick-style control and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The device displays information about phone calls, text messages, music and sport apps. With its embedded microphone and speaker, you can take calls and listen to and respond to text messages, all with your phone tucked away in your pocket. The joystick nub makes it possible to control the device, even with gloves on. Of course, the iStick Playtime also displays the time.
Unlike other sports watches and their bulky cases, the Playtime's thin display flexes around the wrist. This not only makes it comfortable to wear but also allows for larger, clearer presentation of information even in direct sunlight. You will, however, need to lug your phone around in a pocket or backpack for the Playtime to provide sports monitoring and other useful functions.
The device is aimed at athletes performing all types of sports – running, cycling, water sports, hiking, skiing and more. It is able to operate in temperatures as low as 15° F (- 10° C) and survive an estimated water depth of 3 feet (0.9 m). Its lithium-ion battery can run continuously for up to seven days before a recharge is necessary.
The iStick Playtime is an evolution of previous Dew Motion gear like the iStick Audio, a wearable wireless music controller. Dew Motion is currently aiming to raise US$250,000 on Indiegogo to get iStick Playtime into production. With just over $8,000 raised, it's pretty far from its goal. A pledge of $75 will get you one Playtime in black, which Dew Motion estimates will be more than 50 percent off the retail price.
The iStick Playtime will be available in an iPhone 4, 4S and 5 version, as well as an Android version.
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