Casio shows Bluetooth Low Energy watch prototype, awaits Bluetooth Low Energy phones

Sony Ericsson, Citizen, and others have been taking occasional shots at integrating Bluetooth into wrist-bound baubles for several years now, but the problems have been pretty obvious -- Bluetooth wasn't really optimized to transfer nibble-sized chunks of information while sipping almost imperceptible amounts of power, so you end up with a watch that dies in hours or days rather than years. That's where Casio comes into play, showing off a prototype watch here at CES that makes use of Bluetooth Low Energy to connect to your phone and keep you abreast of calls and emails without the hassle of pulling the handset out of your pocket (or, worse yet, your belt-mounted holster). You can also silence alarms just by tapping on the watch, get your time synced, and generally look awesome while doing it -- if it were a production unit, that is. Problem is that there aren't any phones on the market with Bluetooth 4.0 support just yet, but Casio's confident enough that they're in the pipeline to say that they want to product their first BLE-enabled retail watches in 2011. The company is claiming two years of battery life off a single coin cell assuming twelve hours of use a day... so yeah, the benefits for this type of product are pretty clear. Follow the break for the full press release.

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Prototype Features the Latest Wireless Technology with Very Low Power Consumption

LAS VEGAS, JANUARY 5, 2011 - Casio Computer Co., Ltd., announced today that it has developed a watch using Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) technology, the new low-power-consumption version of the short-range wireless networking standard*. A prototype of the watch, sharing a two-way data link with a smartphone, will be exhibited at Casio's booth (#11006) at the International Consumer Electronics Show to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from January 6-9, 2011.

Casio has been redefining the wristwatch for years by applying the latest technologies. Now, Casio's application of BLE positions the company to create new possibilities for the way people use their watches. Taking advantage of the low power consumption of BLE, the new watch powers wireless communication functions with a single, ordinary button-cell battery, and without consuming any more battery life than a conventional wristwatch. Users can wear it every day just like they normally do, without the hassle of recharging which is required by typical mobile devices. Battery life is estimated at approximately two years based on the prototype model, assuming that the Bluetooth wireless communication function is used for 12 hours per day.

Casio's new prototype communicates with BLE-equipped smartphones, which will be available in the near future and will connect to networks of various kinds of devices. As the wireless link between smartphones and watches gains in adoption, and as the universe of smartphone applications continues to grow, Casio expects to see new possibilities for watches in everyday life.

Casio aims to produce its first Bluetooth Low Energy Watch in 2011. Meanwhile, Casio will call for partner companies to develop applications compatible with smartphones and other household devices in such areas as sports, health, home entertainment, security, and communication with family and friends.

Overview of Casio's Prototype Bluetooth Low Energy Watch
Main features:
• Wireless communication is powered by the button-cell battery used in small devices and watches
• Battery life with the communication functions is the same as previously released watches
• The watch case measures a comfortable 53.4 (D) x 44.4 (W) x 12.8 (T) millimeters
Main functions:
• The alert signal notifies the wearer of calls and e-mail messages arriving on the networked smartphone
• Alarm and vibration functions of a smartphone can be activated using a watch button
• A smartphone's ring and vibration alerts can be stopped by tapping the watch
• Accurate time information can be transmitted from a smartphone to the watch to ensure correct time

Casio's demonstration of the Bluetooth Low Energy Watch uses a prototype of a Bluetooth Low Energy smartphone. The demonstration will be conducted at Casio's Booth (#11006) at 2011 International CES, in cooperation with NEC Casio Mobile Communications.