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March 14, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:12am

5 things you need to know about the Meta smartwatch

MetaWatch says there is ‘no complex interface to get lost in’.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

MetaWatch, founded by former employees of watch maker Fossil, introduced Meta, a line of high-end smartwatches, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2014.

CBR tells you five things you need to know about it.

1. Design

The Meta smartwatch is designed to provide a more comfortable and elegant fit on the wrist than MetaWatch’s previous Frame and Strata.

The firm is hoping Frank Nuovo, the former Nokia and Vertu designer, will bring the lineup more class and fashion as it looks to distance itself from the cheaper and mostly plastic smartwatches.

The theme of the watches is called ‘Art of the Glance’, which is driven by the idea that we spend too much time looking at our smartphones instead of interacting with other people, according to CEO Bill Geiser.

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"It’s a perfect solution for customers personal fashion sense and a desired improvement to their digital mobile experience," he told CBR.

The watches will come in a variety of styles, colours and materials, from rubber and stainless steel bands to leather and aluminum bands, which Meta hopes will suit everyone’s taste.

The Verge said: "The [dual-hinge] strap’s pivot points have been moved closer to the centre of the body, which lets the entire watch fit your wrist more comfortably, especially for smaller wrists."

Other features include a 126 x126 LCD display from Sharp, which will be controlled by a TI MSP 430 micro controller with 64kb of RAM.

The device will also come with a new ‘charge clip’ for the battery, which users will only need to use once a week.

2. Application

Users install the MetaWatch app to their Android or iOS device and use Bluetooth 4.0 to synchronise the watch with their smartphone. This way, it can provide notifications on phone calls, emails, texts and weather reports.

There have been no further details on particular software as of yet, but Geiser told CBR there would be a new interface to complement the new hardware design.

"No complex interface to get lost in…Multiple applications on a watch create complexity and navigation issues," he said.

"We’re taking a different approach. All apps are a ‘Watch Face’ where time, date, and other information will be displayed."

3. Competitors

Meta comes as the market for smartwatch technology grows increasingly competitive. In the next three years, it could skyrocket to $30-$50bn as hardware improves and sensors and batteries get better, according to a report by Credit Suisse.

The likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear 2, which boasts a better battery life than the Galaxy Gear, the $249 Pebble Steel, Fitbit and Sony’s SmartWatch 2 are all trying to stake a claim, while companies including Apple, Microsoft and Google are expected to jump into it soon.

Geiser said: "It will not be a ‘winner take all’ market like many consumer electronic categories. We will see many offerings, many styles, a broad range of functions, a broad range of price points, and leaders in multiple segments.

"We’re hopeful that if we continue focusing on creating beautifully simple smart watches we will be one of those leaders."

4. What do people say about it?

Although Meta has not yet been released, The Verge’s Dan Seifert said the prototype versions from the Consumer Electronics Show lived up to their promise.

"It looks and feels much more like a quality watch than a gadget that you strap to your wrist," he said.

"The Meta also has six polished buttons…and a greatly improved display that offers more contrast and is easier to see in a variety of lighting conditions."

Scott Stein from CNET said the handful of designs is "far flashier than the more understated, retro Pebble Steel, which will either float your wearable boat or turn you off."

"The look has grown on me since I first saw these watches at CES a couple of months ago," he said.

Technorms, a technology website, also praised the simplicity of the smartwatch.

"The customisation feature is also pretty nice, as it allows me to choose the activities or notifications for which the watch compliments my phone," it said.

"I imagine getting each and every notification on the watch might just be enough for me to ditch my watch. With Meta, I would not have to reach that state."

5. Cost

Geiser said full pricing and other product details will be announced this April, while the lineup will be targeted for a May release.

AppAdvice suggested that the smartwatches could retail at more than $200, the price Meta charged for Frame, and CNET reported that there could be a variety of prices, based on various designs and materials.

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