Toshiba's concept smartwatch reads your pulse, pulls maps from your phone

Last year at CES, smartwatches seemed like they might become the next big thing (they didn't). This year, the trendy wearables are all fitness trackers, which have already become something of a meme among gadget makers. Toshiba thinks it has a way to bridge both trends. Here at CES 2013 the company is showing off a concept smartwatch that uses an ECG sensor to measure the pulse in your wrist. What's more, it can identify you based on that, and lock down other features of the watch if someone else puts it on.

Of course, it also does all the other things you'd expect a smartwatch to do, like pull in email and calendar appointments from your smartphone. We're told that if this came to market (and we don't know that it will), it would pair with an Android / iOS app, which would allow the watch to not just sync email, but also pull in maps and turn-by-turn directions.

The hardware itself is styled more like an analog watch than other smartwatches we've seen. Toshiba demoed it with different bands, some of them made of leather in serious tones like black and dark brown. As you can see, the 1.7-inch, 200x320-pixel OLED screen can display different clock faces, some of them even designed to mimic an analog watch. As far as runtime is concerned, a Toshiba rep indicated that the company is aiming for at least two days of battery life, though that figure is hardly final. In our hands-on, we noticed some charging points on the reverse side of the face, which you'd use with a proprietary charging cradle. At the same time, the Toshiba spokesperson indicated USB charging was also a possibility. Again, no word on when or if this will come to market. Even if it never surfaces, though, we can get behind the idea of smartwatches that track vitals -- or perhaps fitness trackers that do a little more.

Gallery | 14 Photos

Hands-on with Toshiba Smartwatch prototype

Sarah Silbert contributed to this report.

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