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WIMM Labs introduces tiny wearable computer platform, we go hands-on


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Tablets and smartphones might rule the present, but if you ask the folks at WIMM Labs, the future of data consumption is a one-inch by one-inch square. The Los Altos startup just revealed its new, wearable computing platform, developed, in part, through a partnership with Foxconn, that it hopes will change the way we look at computers. Currently known as the WIMM wearable platform, this new modular device packs a full-color 160 x 160 touchscreen, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, an accelerometer and magnetometer, and runs on good old Android. What's more, it's waterproof. Basically, it's a tiny, multifunctional computer, packed with "micro apps" that can make it anything from a smart watch to a health monitor, from a mobile payment device to an all-in-one remote. As of now, the company doesn't have plans to market it direct to consumers, but says it has a few partnerships in the works that could bring a WIMM-powered something to market by year's end; a developer kit will go on sale in the next few weeks for an undisclosed price. If you're itching to ditch that tired old diamond-encrusted nano watch, check out the galleries below and hop on past the break for our first impressions, video, and full PR.

Gallery: WIMM wearable platform concepts | 8 Photos

Gallery: WIMM wearable platform hands-on | 12 Photos

On first sight, the WIMM wearable platform looks like the love child of an iPod nano and Sifteo's Cubits. We got a chance to slide our greasy fingers across two different flavors: one made with a shiny ceramic shell that resembled onyx and the other outfitted in white plastic. As of now, the company only has a handful of developers working on dedicated apps for the platform that will be sold in partner-branded app stores, hosted by WIMM Labs. Users will be able to download apps from a separate device, and sync them to their module via WiFi. We flipped through a series of watch faces, a weather app, and a calendar, but its creators see it as potential competition for everything from the Nike+ SportWatch to the universal remote. Also on hand, were a USB charger, a couple of different wristbands that house the mini computer like a nano watch, and a travel dock that apparently provides up to five days of juice. Of course, there are limitations to what you can do on a one-inch screen, and WIMM seems to realize those limitations; it's pushing RSS preview apps, instead of fully featured readers, and while there is a text input feature, they haven't outfitted the thing to send text messages or e-mails.

Since WIMM Labs has chosen to license its technology, the platform's future is anyone's guess -- we were told the little guys could sell for anywhere from $200 to $2000 -- but we're hoping some brave boffin will trick one of these puppies out and finally make us a real-deal go-go-gadget watch.

Show full PR text

Platform Offers Small Form Factor, Color Touch Screen, Internet Connectivity, and Custom App Store to Enable a Wide Range of New Wearable Devices

LOS ALTOS, Calif. – August 2, 2011 – WIMM Labs® today announced details of its wearable platform as well as the upcoming availability of a limited number of WIMM One Developer Preview Kits. The platform will usher in a new era of innovation for wearable technology with the support of WIMM investors and partners, a network of independent developers and the imagination of brand licensees.

"There's an increasing demand for digital experiences that are faster, easier and more relevant. WIMM Labs integrates information into your daily life in the form of useful, subtle glances," said Dave Mooring, WIMM Labs Chief Executive Officer.

"To achieve that, we've created an incredibly powerful, yet small, modular device that can be embedded into a wide variety of consumer products. Combined with customizable applications and a branded web interface, the WIMM Labs Platform give licensees the ability to create more personal, intuitive and valuable connections with customers," concluded Mooring.

The WIMM Platform
Fundamental to the WIMM Platform is an elegant, simple touch screen interface that hides the complexity and power of the underlying technology. The WIMM Module can be loaded with a variety of Android-based Micro Apps created by using an open SDK. In addition, it works seamlessly with Android, Blackberry and iOS devices. For the partner, it offers an open platform that's easily customizable; for the consumer, it offers always-on information at a glance.

"Mobile devices are proliferating, but there's still an unmet need for convenient and immediate access to information as part of the flow of daily life on the go," commented William Stofega at IDC. "The WIMM Labs team has put together a thoughtful approach to address this need and ultimately grow the wearable technology category. With a strong development and manufacturing partner, a ready-to-go Micro App store, and having key developers on-board early, they are poised to capitalize on where their predecessors have tripped up in the past."

The WIMM Module features:
• Always-On Access – Dynamic activity feeds and alerts on a 1.4 inch display
• Full-Color Touch Screen – Rich visual experiences and effortless navigation
• Robust Connectivity – Connects to Internet via Wi-Fi; Bluetooth pairing
• Accelerometer and Magnetometer – Built in sensors for accurate motion tracking
• Web-based Management – Manage device and add applications through any desktop or mobile device

The module will come pre-loaded with a library of custom watch faces and core Micro Apps, including: Caller ID, SMS Preview, Lost Phone Warning, Calendar, Weather, World Clock and more.

With the WIMM Platform, the possibilities for licensees are nearly endless. Early scenarios include an ultimate athlete watch, business command and control devices, payment automation, and advanced health monitoring.

A turnkey solution for licensees
The WIMM Platform integrates hardware, app tools and web services into a highly scalable product development model. WIMM Labs can quickly take licensees from product incubation and testing to full-scale manufacturing and sales.

Opportunity for developers
The WIMM Platform offers developers an opportunity to work with familiar Android tools to develop WIMM Micro Apps and generate new revenue streams. While the public SDK will be available later in Q3, the company is already collaborating with a handpicked set of developers on core applications as well as applications specific to key categories.

Interested developers with game-changing ideas should apply for entry in the WIMM Innovators Program and early access to the WIMM One Developer Preview Kit here.

"Working on the WIMM Platform allows us to attack a new market segment," said Gligor Dacevski of CreationPal, developer of SportyPal. "Because the WIMM device is always on and always attached to the body, our fitness app on the WIMM Platform helps athletes in the gym or on the field, giving them immediate guidance and feedback on their workout."

"Our application on the WIMM Platform controls presentations and music more easily and conveniently than single-function remote controls or smartphone apps. With the swipe of a finger or flick of a wrist, the device is simultaneously intuitive and sophisticated," said Philip Bergqvist of Unified Remote, who is developing a WIMM Micro App to control PowerPoint, iTunes, Windows Media Player and more on Windows computers.

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