Today, as news both expected and unexpected, Swatch has introduced what will be its first widely available smartwatch: the Swatch Touch Zero One. What we all expected to see sooner or later – preferably sooner – was a smart / notification / fitness watch to be offered by one of the Swiss watch industry giants. The unexpected part, is that there's a direct link to, there's no other way to put it, beach volleyball. The Swatch Touch has been around for about four years and now, thanks to its trademark tactile control (touchscreen) and larger display area, it is now becoming the vehicle that Swatch uses to introduce its first mass-produced smartwatch.
If you are not entirely familiar with the Swatch Touch you can find our detailed review of it here. Swatch did announce the Swatch Touch Liquid Metal recently, which was to be a very limited edition Touch with Bluetooth connectivity. Now, Swatch has debuted the Swatch Touch Zero One – accompanied by a single page press document that shares very few exact details about Swatch's entry; but with a little extra research we did get much closer to the full picture. Here's what we know.
The Touch Zero One adds a number of features to the curved screen, built-in backlight along with the finger-tap and side-swipe control of the original. The new, very smartwatch-like functions include a touchscreen – which will, presumably, work with greater accuracy and better feedback than the original – as well as "Beach Volley functions" such as a step counter, "power hits" and "power claps."
The watch will communicate with the Touch Zero One app running on your phone – chances are that we are talking about both Android and iOS phones, acting as a fitness tracker which, in this case, happens to be designed with a focus not just on sports in general, but beach volleyball specifically.
That focus will mean that the watch is gathering information using its built-in sensors and sending that data to the app running on the phone, which in turn will compile and then digest the data. The functions include a "hit counter" that will not just count the amount of times the player has hit the ball during the game but will also be able to differentiate four different hits such as attack hits, low hits, high hits and high fives. The Power Hit counter will be able to measure the strength of the hit and in fact rate the player on a scale from 0 to 100, from beginner through amateur to professional.
The list is made complete with a step and activity-time counter as well as a clap counter. Finally, from all this compiled data, the app will be able to calculate how many calories the wearer has burned during the game / workout and create graph overviews and reports on the progress the wearer has made over the course of days and months. You may have noticed what might just be the icing on the cake: on the display of the watch there is an image of an ice cream that is actually growing (with an ever larger portion being lit up) as progress in the workout is made, acting as some sort of a motivation system.
The Swatch Touch Zero One will be battery-powered but, unlike most all other smartwatches on the market, it will not require charging every night after a day of extensive use: Swatch says that the battery will, in fact, last "for months and months." Although there is no confirmed information on this yet, the watch will likely use NFC, i.e. Near-Field Communication to send and receive data between the watch and the app running on the phone. This connection type generally uses even less energy than Bluetooth does, allowing for the extended battery life over other smartphones.
The lack of a colorful and higher resolution LCD display and a likely more limited number of sensors will also help the battery last much longer – although Swatch is known to have been working on developing new sensor and battery technologies (along with other ones), also allowing them to help future Swatch Touch Zero One owners have their watch run for longer on the same non-chargeable battery.
As Bloomberg quotes him, just two years ago we have heard Nick Hayek Jr., president and chairman of the Swatch Group, say that he does not think the smartwatch will be a revolution for the industry. Now, however, we are at a point where Swatch may have something to bring in to the fight against Apple's – presently non-existent but imminent – domination over the smartwatch market. Swatch enters the game with the Touch Zero One which will compete with a considerably lower price point, much better battery life and – at this point the promise of – a wide variety of models designed and programmed to suit the specific requirements of different sports out there.
There are no words however about notifications – such as emails, alarms, calls and others - so what the Swatch Touch Zero One presently appears to be is primarily a fitness / activity tracker that will indeed register your activities and with its bespoke app create reports on it. As a first step it is a very interesting proposition and one that marks an industry giant's entry into the smartwatch market. Price for the entirely Swiss made Swatch Touch Zero One is expected to be around 149 Swiss Francs or around $159. swatch.com