Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Nowatch wants you to live in the moment

Nowatch, which is pronounced “Now-watch”, has launched its wearable device. And it’s a bit of an odd one. The device looks like a smartwatch, with a round form-factor and wrist strap that looks exactly like a watch… but the device does not have an interface at all. Instead, where you would expect to see a smart screen – or at least some analog hands to tell you the time – there is a gemstone. In other words, “No Watch” would be a more accurate pronunciation as it’s jewelry, of a sort. Under the gemstone are the usual array of sensors, including heart rate, skin temperature Sp02 and an activity sensor that looks for signs of stress (pretty much all the same array of sensors you will find on a Fitbit Sense 2. If the watch detects undue stress, it will vibrate, but beyond that you need to use the companion smartphone app to see any of the details. The company calls the device “awareable” as it is designed not to steal your attention away from whatever else you are doing. But still, adding a clock would have been a nice feature perhaps?

The NPD Take:

  • Nowatch is not in a category of its own. Devices such as the Whoop 4.0 provide a similar solution, as do smart rings such as Oura. The main difference is that those devices don’t look like a watch and we feel it is a big mistake for Nowatch to look like one without the actual functionality.
  • Combine it with an analog interface rather than a swappable gemstone (or shape the device as a cooler band perhaps) and the company may have found a niche. As it is, for $300 there are plenty of other options available that also tell the time (or don’t but look more stylish).

Watch me, Mom!

Verizon has announced the latest in its line of kid-focused smartwatches. The Gizmo Watch 3 offers basic smartwatch features – wrapped in a protective casing – while offering cellular connectivity so that parents can keep an eye of the child’s location and communicate with them. At $150, that’s an attractive deal, but what makes it even more appealing is that the watch comes with a camera (front facing obviously), allowing for video calls, photos and video messages. The watch also supports Bluetooth so the child can use ear buds while on a call for a bit more privacy.

The NPD Take:

  • We expect that the younger child market will become a key growth sector for wearables this year, and Verizon’s watch is perfectly positioned at $150 (far less than a smartphone would cost).
  • For Verizon, this helps drive additional wireless subscribers, as well as solidifying its existing subscriber base as consumers will be adding lines – and unique hardware – to their current Verizon bill.

Ringing in the New Year

Oura looks set to face competition in the smart ring market with health company, Movano, showing off a new ring – the Elvie – that is aimed at women. The ring looks to be more stylish and less bulky than Oura’s rather utilitarian ring and offers the same array of health metrics (heart rate, blood oxygen, skin temperature variability, steps, calories, period and ovulation. The company claims that Elvie will deliver medical grade biometric data with the promise of turning said biometrics into actionable insights. Movano first teased the Elvie ring at CES 2022, but was initially going to be based on subscription pricing. However, it looks as though this final iteration will be sold at a one-time price below $300.

The NPD Take:

  • The smart ring market is still in its infancy, but we do believe has potential, especially among the base of consumers who do not like to wear smartwatches (or indeed any watch).
  • At the risk of overloading the ring with features, we believe that enabling payments via the ring would enhance the market potential beyond the health and fitness target. This is, we believe, key to the success of the ring, targeting a more “casual” consumer than those who want to track their every movement. 

Intelligent Watch?

2023 is going to be the year when “smart” devices are no longer enough: instead, it will be the year of “intelligence” with AI. And Citizen is right there at the beginning, launching its latest CZ Smart smartwatches that feature an AI “self-care advisor”. Sifting through the hyperbole, this is an app that can work out when the wearer is at their most alert or tired in order to “maximize their daily potential”. The solution does come with some serious street-cred as it uses IBM Watson’s neural networks to learn the wearer’s behavior. Alert scores are developed based on a consumer version of NASA’s PVT+ test created at the Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures. So, pretty powerful credentials that mean the watch may actually provide some meaningful data (something we have been skeptical about in the past –see I Dream of Rats).

The NPD Take:

  • We hit the high points of the intelligence above, but missed out a key feature: it’s a very good-looking watch at a reasonable price (expected to start at $300). It runs on Wear OS and will work with both iPhones and Android.
  • This watch may attract a different audience to smartwatches; those that care less about the mundane fitness and steps but may be interested in some actionable responses from the device.
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