For as long as we can remember, every year has supposedly been the year Dick Tracy's wristwatch, popularized since the 1940s, would cross over from the realm of make-believe to reality. We've never been closer, with a handful of devices available now or on the horizon which take advantage of technologies like OLED screens, the Android OS, Bluetooth connectivity, email and social network notification to put smartphone features into a wristwatch form factor...
Sony Smartwatch: Arguably the closest any manufacturer has come to realizing a truly useful device in wristwatch form factor, Sony's SmartWatch is built upon the Android OS, with a touchscreen color OLED display which sips power for up to a week of use between charges (3-4 with normal use). Bluetooth connectivity between the watch and compatible Android handsets allows users a quick glance option for Facebook and Twitter updates, controlling the music player, email and calendar reminders, and accepting/rejecting incoming phone calls with caller ID.
Sony plans to further support the device via Google Play with additional applications, but as Slashgear's video review above reveals, the sleek device is hampered by a few limitations and buggy responsiveness. Available in black, white and gray for $149.99 (you can already find these online for as low as $117 if you're too impatient about the domestic availability).
WIMM One: Another Android powered ultra-mobile device, the hefty square of metal is Bluetooth enabled for the usual crop of smartphone enhancing features: call ringing, caller ID display, and even Google Calendar updates via wi-fi. The current $199 WIMM ONe Developer Preview advertises the ability to develop custom "Micro Apps" via Android-based SDK and developer program, so if you're the tech-tinkering type, this could be prove to be a fun device to customize, but probably won't be a mainstream hit due to its geeky pedigree and industrial aesthetic.
Pebble: Like the Sony watch, the Pebble is designed as a sidekick to an Android (and iPhone) device rather than an actual replacement. The $150-something E-Paper watch is just finishing its round of Kickstarter funding (closes Wednesday), raising a whopping $3.3 million dollars. Sporting a minimalist design in form and UI, the Pebble works offers email notification, music remote with your smartphone, GPS/pedometer, weather alerts, Facebook updates, and caller ID, eliminating the necessity for pulling out your smartphone for "quick glance" tasks throughout the day.
QLOCKTWO W: Alright, the $725 QLOCKTWO isn't really a smart device, but it does offer a highly unique LED display with time and date served up as a sentence rather than numerically, a miniaturized version of it's wall clock big brother. The grid of 110 letters light up and display time grammatically, sure to be a conversation starter once noticed. BUT, if you like Biegert & Funk's unusual take on the timepiece and don't want to wait for it in wristwatch form (available this fall), you can download the $.99 cent app with the exact UI for your iOS device.
Phaeton DVIP Android Watch: I wouldn't place any bets this Shenzhen Huitengmei Electronic Technology Development Company Limited watch device really catches on beyond the niche market, but it could be a precursor to the near future of tech watches moving beyond half-witted companions to our full feature smartphone devices. The Phaeton is a real smart device, with Android Froyo OS powered by a MTK6516 processor inside the expansive 2″ 320×240 QVGA capacitive touch screen. Think of this as the Samsung Galaxy Note of smart watches, and the first one to aim to actually replace your smartphone, complete with dual-SIM, a built-in camera (I'd hate to imagine the quality of the photos), and MicroSD card slot for expanded memory. Better have great eyesight...that 320x240 display should come with a warning about the danger of eye wrinkles with extended use.
(Images: as listed above via manufacturers; Phaeton via Tech Fokus)