Wearable tech isn’t exactly new, but it has certainly seen a major resurgence as of late. A large part of this is because technology is finally starting to advance enough to make watches, glasses and other wearables truly useful. While the most ambitious wearable is Google’s Glass, devices like the Pebble smartwatch have also received quite a bit of attention. Now it looks like Pebble is about to get itself a new competitor, the “Agent”.
The Agent is the brainchild of Secret Labs and is designed by NYC watchmaker, House of Horology. Like Pebble, this watch is taking to Kickstarter in hopes of bringing the smartwatch scene to the next level. You might wonder what makes this watch different from the Pebble. At first glance, not much.
Both watches have Sharp displays that are similarly sized and even the watchfaces look alike. Feature-wise, the Agent also supports much of the same as the Pebble: pushing notifications, showing you the weather, acting as a pedometer and controlling music. It also works with any Android 2.3+ mobile device.
If it’s basically just a Pebble ‘clone’, why bother? Secret Labs hopes that you’ll see past that obvious similarities, and look a bit deeper. The differences here are two: processor design and wireless charging.
For the later of these, the Agent utilizes Qi wireless technology. The watch will come with its own charger pad, but should also work with existing pads.
As for the processor, the Agent uses a 120MHz ARM Cortex-M4, designed with speed and performance in mind. To prevent the processor from draining away the battery, it is actually kept in sleep-mode most of the time, with the secondary processor handling basic actions like displaying the time.
The end result is that the Agent can last 30 days in “watchface-only” mode, or up to 7 days with smart functions activated. This is at least a little bit better than most of the other smartwatches on the market.
Secret Labs claims that their watch design will be more efficient that competitors, due to the use of Microsoft’s .NET runtime environment. They also boast that making apps will be easy, allowing programmers to use C# and Microsoft Visual Studio.
For those that might be interested in developing for the watch, Secret Labs says that an SDK will be rolling out immediately after the Kickstarter campaign ends.
The Agent seems to be an interesting idea, but ultimately, it isn’t much different from the Pebble. The watch does have wireless charging and slightly improved battery life, but it also is planning a price of around $249, versus the $150 for the Pebble. It is worth mentioning that early bird Kickstarter pledges can pre-order it for $129.
Besides not truly offering much to set itself apart from the Pebble, there is also the possibility that by the time the Agent arrives to its backers, either Apple or Samsung might already have announced a smartwatch of their own.
If this had released six to twelve months earlier, the Agent could have been big. Now we aren’t so sure. What do you think of the Secret Labs Agent, would you consider it over devices like the Pebble?
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I love wearable technology since i was in primary. With wireless charging, and 30 days standby, thats fantastic and am excited, vs 2-3days standby currently. Biggest problem is design, i dont like it one bit. I hope they smooth out those side buttons, and remove the “casio mountain/altutude ruggedness” and redesign external appearance to conform with clean smooth design language of today. Form is slightly more important than function on such devices, particularly at this early stage.