While Samsung and others keep adding tech to make their smartwatches smarter, Finnish mobile designers Creoir are taking a different approach to wearables.
Their idea is that wearability - looks, basically - should be the first concern. With that in mind they've created a concept smartwatch that could be the first that can properly be called a piece of jewellery. We met up with them at MWC for a closer look.
Ibis smart jewel
It's a fairly safe bet you haven't heard of Creoir, the Finnish mobile design firm, but it's equally probable that you've held (or perhaps even own) one of their designs. They've helped create products for most major manufacturers, and they say there are about 50 phones on sale at the moment that are Creoir-designed, including fellow Finnphone Jolla. Unfortunately, apart from Jolla, they can't say which phones they've made or for whom.
"It's like we're a Swiss bank," says Creoir's Ismo Karali, "we can't say who our clients are."
But while their main occupation is helping to create smartphones, Ismo believes wearables should be the other kind of smart - fashionable, desirable things that people will keep for a long time. While gadget fans replace their phone once a year, a watch - especially a high-end one like a Breitling or a Rolex - is for life. This is the difficulty that faces watches like the Samsung's Galaxy Gear - they're nice now, but they'll be obsolete in eighteen months.
With that in mind, Creoir has built a concept smartwatch which incorporates both an analogue watch movement and a subtle display - not a fully-featured screen, but a simple, classy little readout that delivers limited information about what's happening on your phone. It feels much more like a piece of jewelry than any smartwatch we've held so far - solid, weighty, made like a real watch. It's an uncluttered metal structure that feels like it would last a long time. The UI, which we try on a separate device, is similarly fuss-free.
"The interface is very simple," explains Ismo, "but it could be even more so. We have one UI that's just colours. The idea is that it doesn't interfere, it doesn't keep pinging messages at you while you're driving, it keeps you in touch, but using very simple indicators."
Creoir's plan for the Ibis is to bring a watch manufacturer on board, and Ismo says they're ready to design and manufacture quite quickly. So, while you won't be able to buy the Ibis itself, there's a chance that a major watch or fashion brand will start selling something like this by the end of this year. Watch this space, if you'll pardon the pun.