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Toshiba smartwatch prototype displayed at CES

Toshiba takes first step towards OLED smartwatch

Following the success of the Pebble smartwatch on KickStarter, it looks like these ultimate smartphone accessories might be the big thing for 2013. Toshiba is getting in on the act too, showing a prototype smartwatch on its stand at CES this year.

If the Pebble passed you by, then a smartwatch isn’t a standalone device, but rather a secondary display linked to your Android or iOS smartphone by Bluetooth. It uses the phone’s processing power and internet connection and displays useful info – like the time, calendar alerts, incoming call data and even text messages.

Toshiba smartwatch prototype

Toshiba’s take on the smartwatch, which doesn’t even has a name yet, uses an OLED display, rather than the Kindle-style e-ink display on the Pebble. It uses light sensors on the watch to dynamically change the brightness to make sure it’s always visible – like your smartphone. The OLED display would make it considerably more expensive we’d have thought and might cause battery problems too.

It certainly looks pretty chunky at present, but then it amazes us just how big and heavy some of the posher watches are, and people wear those. It certainly looks classy, with its leather strap and metal casing, more a traditional design than a geek toy.

Toshiba smartwatch prototype

Toshiba says the display could show a number of different watch dial designs, but it also has other functions too. Toshiba has included an ECG sensor, which keeps an eye on your health but also shuts down the watch should it not recognise its true owner’s unique rhythms. We didn’t know we had a unique pulse, but it sounds clever all the same.

We’re not sure when, or if, we’ll see this device, but if Pebble’s CES press conference tomorrow gets as much attention as we think it will, then we imagine Toshiba won’t leave this on the back burner for long.

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