Earlier this year, Swatch teased a different kind of smartwatch. Named the Touch Zero One, the $160 touchscreen device has general fitness tracker capabilities (monitoring calories burned and steps taken) but is specifically geared towards beach volleyball, harboring the ability to track spikes, high-fives, and low- and high-hits. The stats are forwarded to a companion app which, in turn, rates the user’s volleyball prowess on a scale of 0 to 100.
The narrow scope of utility is precisely what sets the looming Swatch smartwatch apart from the crowd. Instead of cramming enormous functionality into a single device and thereby transforming it into a wrist-computer (read: Apple Watch), Swatch’s strategy appears to be “including individual tech features in different models.”
The tactic makes sense, considering CEO Nicolas Hayek has stated the number ‘zero’ in the device’s title is for a reason. “Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine. The Touch Zero One is not the end of development,” he told Tages Anzeiger.
The hardware is another distinctive break from the path most smartwatch manufacturers have been trotting — and again, that seems to be precisely the point. The Touch Zero One has a clunky cab-yellow plastic face and a multi-colored band that can only be described as sporty, but it is designed for function over fashion, after all. And in a market flooded with fitness devices ironically overly-preoccupied with aesthetics, some good old-fashioned utilitarianism is a welcome relief.
But is the plan to go against the grain brilliant in its novelty, or is it merely an attempt to be different just to be different? Swatch has made its intention to go head-to-head with Apple painstakingly clear. Aside from calling the Apple Watch “a toy,” Hayek recently trademarked “One More Thing,” a phrase infamously used by the late Steve Jobs while announcing new devices.
Either way, Swatch’s tactic is certainly an interesting one, especially considering the fact that the Touch Zero Two will be here sooner than you may think. Although details are scarce, Hayek announced the watch will be unveiled at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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