An analog timepiece beats in the heart of this awkward smartwatch

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Sean Buckley
September 9th, 2014
An analog timepiece beats in the heart of this awkward smartwatch

Think you know what to expect in the emerging category of wrist-worn computing? Think again -- the thick, heavy device pictured above is the Halo: a smartwatch that almost has more in common with a traditional timepiece than it does with a smartphone. Lonshine technologies bills the Halo as "the world's first smart analogue watch," meaning that it still relies on the ticking of mechanical quartz movement to keep time. This is a smartwatch that has a real watch face and real hands nestled underneath a transparent touchscreen.

If you're wondering "why" (so were we), the answer is simple: battery life. The Moto 360 may be an attractive, functional wearable, but when its battery runs down it loses the ability to tell time. The Halo doesn't -- its mechanical movement runs on a standard watch battery, and lasts up to three years. Its higher functions are completely separate, almost an afterthought to the device's primary function as a timepiece. Unfortunately, that disharmony shows.

The Halo is a heavy, thick watch that comes in two variants -- an extra thick model (the Halo-2) that features extra batteries in the wrist-band and room for a sim-card as well as a slightly slimmer (but still notably large) Bluetooth model. Both watches run a heavily stripped down version of Android and can be used to make and accept calls and text messages (as as Google Hangouts) and display weather data. The experience is responsive, and overlays the traditional watch nicely, but it's extremely limited. This is a last generation smartwatch embedded within last century's timepiece.

For its faults, the Halo is actually a very novel idea -- by retaining classic watch mechanics, it ensures the wearer will always have at least basic functionality from the wearable, giving it a form of battery life that no other smart wearable on the market can manage. Lonshine technologies says it's looking for partners in the US to help market and distribute the watch, but couldn't say when it will launch. When it does arrive, however, it should be somewhere in the $300 price range.

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