Sony might soon release their latest wearable, an e-ink smartwatch called the FES Watch. The Fashion Entertainment Watch shares the same technology found in Amazon’s Kindle or more recently the Pebble smartwatch. E-ink is a technology appears as paper, and available in grayscale.
In an interesting market validation move, Sony hid this watch in plain sight on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake, operating under the alias Fashion Entertainments or FES. There it flew past its original funding goal of around $8,500 and managed to raise around $20,000. These figures are conservative compared to the figures raised by other devices, namely the e-ink behemoth Pebble who raised over $10 million via crowdfunding, though likely enough for Sony to justify further investment. In a departure from Sony’s typical conservative product launch, the company put the smartwatch project under the name of Fashion Entertainment Watch to test the marketplace. So far it looks like the gamble was worth it.
One of the project’s coordinators said, “We hid Sony’s name because we wanted to test the real value of the product, whether there will be demand for our concept.”
The key design feature of the e-ink watch is that is capable to change the pattern design and interface of the watch and wristband. The wearable can transform into 24 different design patterns, like changing light to dark, with one that can sport an alligator skin pattern. Of course the principal victory with e-ink is battery life, where the FES watch claims it supposedly can last up to 60 days on one battery charge.
The FES watch was offered for $167 (US) on the crowdfunding website and scheduled to ship to backers in May 2015. Sony has not announced whether or not when the product will be made widely available as a commercial product.