After its Smartwatch 3 release, Sony plans to launch a new series of high tech watches – the e-paper watch – as early as next year. Unlike the smartwatch, the e-paper watch will try to appeal customers with its sense of style, rather than with high technological advances.
The “e-paper” technology patented by Sony is different from e-paper used on e-readers and other similar devices. Sony’s e-paper will allow the watch to change its color and display when its wearer moves. Pebble smartwatch and CST-01 watch, two crowdfounded watches, also use e-paper, but the Kindle-like paper and only for their display.
It seems that Sony’s mysterious e-paper watch was also a crowdfunded project called the FES watch. The FES watch was an invention of the Japanese team Fashion Entertainments. Recently, Sony has said that FE was one of its subdivisions that wanted to test the market and the real value of the product.
It seems that the new e-paper watch is the product of a creation division recently created by Sony to help the company make some profit with a new series of products. Sony has been lost more that $8 billion in the last four years due to the slow demand for TV sets and cameras. So, the Japanese company needs to focus on other products to help it re-conquer the market.
In May, the Sony creation division’s CEO, Kazuo Hirai, reassured investors that the new innovation program would help create new businesses for Sony, sponsor young talents, and become Sony’s new driving force.
“The innovation program is very important, but it will take time and require some risk-taking. It’s not that Sony ran out of new ideas, but rather, it’s taking too long to restructure, and gigantic losses have starved new businesses of funds,”
Professor Sadao Nagaoka, adviser to Japan’s Patent Office, recently said.
Additionally, Professor Keun Lee said that Sony doesn’t have just a problem in choosing the right technology, but it has also a management problem that drives the company back.
The new innovation division has also a program for financing any employee with a good idea (Sony’s Seed Acceleration Program) that obtained 187 new projects in the first stage, audition, while 80 will get to the next stage, incubation, towards the final stage implementation.
Sony’s e-paper watch will be for Hirai the greatest challenge, since the market for wearable technology is still evolving with slow steps – only 22 million of smartwatches were sold this year, but experts expect it to grow five times more in the next 5 years.
A new survey led by Nomura Research Institute showed that wearable market was so slow moving because of three main reasons – clients found the products expensive, heavy and ugly. But Sony launches its high-tech e-paper watch, and all these will start to change.