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Meet Pine, a Smartwatch That’s Actually Smart

February 4, 2013

1:00 pm

The Pebble smartwatch was the Kickstarter hit of 2012, raising over $10 million. The Bia sports watch for women was also a success, pulling in over $400,000. And MetaWatch raised over $300,000.

All these watches are “smart” – they have apps, they can transfer data, and the Pebble and MetaWatch communicate with your phone – but they aren’t as intelligent as they could be. Montreal startup Neptune is building a smartwatch that actually functions as a phone: you can make calls, take video and pictures, and go online.

To start it up, you just stick in a micro-SIM card. The 2.5” screen includes a touch keyboard that’s the same size as the one on the iPhone. The 5 megapixel camera is the same resolution as the iPhone 4’s.

Neptune is looking for a manufacturer, and hopes to start selling the Pine for $335 (8 GB) and ship in fall 2013. Below, cofounder and CEO Simon Tian explains the trend toward wearable computers like smartwatches.

Tech Cocktail: Why is this so revolutionary? 

Simon Tian: I believe that in the next decade or so, wearable computing technology will mature very quickly and will be rapidly adopted by the masses, just like how we adopted cars, planes, computers, smartphones, etc.

The Neptune Pine is revolutionary in the sense that it is the first wearable computer that is actually completely independent. It doesn’t depend on a rectangular “brick” that you need to carry around all the time.

Tech Cocktail: Why aren’t there many smartwatches that actually work as phones?

Tian: I think it’s because of mainly two reasons:

  1. It’s only very recently that it has become possible to fit all of that technology in such a small space.
  2. No one has ever tried to market such a device, and no company right now is willing to take the risk of developing such a device because no one has tested the market yet. There needs to be a certain company that actually “triggers” the explosion in commercial interest in a new form factor, like how the Apple iPhone “triggered” the capacitive smartphone form factor.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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